The West Virginia Mountaineers (25-21) defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies (20-27) 10-5 inside Monongalia County Ball Park Wednesday night. The Mountaineers and the Hokies went through a combined 17 pitchers through the evening.
Leftfielder and lead-off hitter Braden Zarbnisky started the game with a hard bunt towards Virginia Tech second baseman Jack Owens, playing just off the dirt, then hustled down the line beating the throw to first.
Brandon White drew a walk before Darius Hill hit a hard groundball just inside the first base line, ricocheting off the fence, and Zarbnisky and White scored for a two RBI double.
Kyle Gray extended his hit streak to 23, hitting a two RBI single up the middle, giving the Mountaineers the early 3-0 lead.
That led to Virginia Tech head coach John Szefc to pull his starter Dylan Hall after a third of an inning and putting in Nic Enright, for what seemed the start of a never-ending night of trips to the mound. Enright got out of the inning with no more damage.
In the bottom of the second inning, Jimmy Galusky hit a ground ball through the gap on the left side of the infield, then Zarbnisky doubled on a chopper that bounced over Hokie first baseman Sam Fragale’s head.
Brandon White poked a ball into rightfield for a single scoring Galusky and Zarbnisky, giving West Virginia a 5-0 lead.
The Mountaineers continued to add to their lead in the third inning after the Hokies brought pitcher Hayden Heflin to take the mound.
Heflin struck out Kyle Gray but then, Tyler Doanes singled through the left side of the field, getting momentum going fir tge Mountaineers in the third.
Back to back errors by the Hokies loaded the bases for Jimmy Galusky and got to first on a deep ground ball to the shortstop for an RBI single. Zarbnisky followed with hit a sacrifice groundball to first base scoring Isaiah Kearns.
West Virginia was leading 7-0 at the top of the fourth inning, until Mountaineers starting pitcher Christian Young gave up a hit to Jake Owens to start the inning. He got Sam Fragale to line out to leftfield, but after his second wild pitch, in which Owens took third, he walked JD Mundy and Mazey went to his bullpen for Tristen Hudson.
After giving up back to back hits bringing in a run, Hudson then beaned Nick Owens with the bases loaded scoring Mundy from third.
Stevie Mangrum hit a grounder to second base, but Kyle Gray bobbled the ball and that brought in another Hokie run, capping a three run fourth inning, closing the gap on the Mountaineers, 7-3.
West Virginia’s Darius Hill hit a line drive that got by leftfielder Tom Stoffel on the hop, and Hill would take third before Marques Inman singled on a line drive into rightfield bringing in Darius extending their lead back to five 8-3.
Mazey brought in Connor Dotson to start the sixth inning and after Fernandez singled to left field, then advanced to second base on a wild pitch, Dotson hit Nick Owens and that ended Dotson’s night after six total pitches.
Shane Ennis came into the game and he threw a wild pitch to advance both runners into scoring position. Andrew Webb put the ball in play to score Fernandez, cutting the Mountaineers lead to four, 8-4.
The Mountaineers Jackson Wolfe started the seventh inning with a strikeout, but then JD Mundy doubled to left centerfield and he would reach third on a wild pitch. Nick Menken laid down a sacrifice bunt to score Mundy and the West Virginia lead was down to three.
Wolfe gave up another single and that ended his evening as Mazey brought in Dillion Meadows to finish off the inning.
West Virginia’s Sam Kessler took the mound in the eighth inning and he took control. He only threw 15 pitches and gave up a double to keep the Hokies off the board.
The bases were loaded for Ivan Gonzalez in the bottom of the eighth. He hit a line drive through the gap between short and third for a two RBI single, giving the Mountaineers some insurance building the lead to five.
Mazey went with his most consistent closer as of late, Sophomore Alek Monoah, in the ninth inning and he ended the game on three consecutive outs.
The Mountaineers ended the night with 17 hits and 10 runs. “We’re having some consistency on offense. It appears we have our short game back, that disappeared for a little while. I think we had three or four bunt hits tonight. Moved some runners. We had five or six stolen bases. We got a lot of hits, but we didn’t smash balls like we normally do. Not a lot of extra base hits in the gaps. It’s nice to know you can win games like that.” Said head coach Randy Mazey.
West Virginia went through eight pitchers through the evening. Mazey sights consistency, “Consistency’s been an issue with us. Get a guy that throws really good then flip him the ball next time and he’s not as good. We just need to be consistent. Kessler was pretty good tonight. Monoah was pretty good tonight. Those are the guys we need in our last seven regular season games.”
The Mountaineers head to Fort Worth, Texas this weekend to take on the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs (27-18, 8-9) for a three-game series. TCU has a two game lead over the Mountaineers in the Big XII Standings.