The No. 23 West Virginia Mountaineers (24-14, 8-7) late rally came up a little short against the Kansas Jayhawks (20-18, 5-10) Sunday afternoon. WVU trailed 6-1 heading to the eight inning and got back within a run in the bottom of the inning to give themselves another chance for a walk-off win and to sweep the Jayhawks.
West Virginia starting pitcher Kade Strowd had a rough start to his day. He struck out Jayhawk lead-off hitter Brett Vosik but followed it up by hitting Dylan Ditzenberger on the first pitch. Then Jaxx Groshans and Nolan Metcalf singled back up the middle to bring in the games first run.
The Jayhawks added two more as Benjamin Sems pulled the ball down the rightfield line for an RBI double and Skyler Messinger hit a ground ball off Strowds leg for an RBI single as Kansas took an early 3-0 lead.
“They played good.” Said West Virginia head coach Randy Mazey after the game. “They came out swinging the bat against Strowd. People don’t hit Strowd like that. They did a good job.”
Paul McIntosh started the second inning with a line-drive up the middle then got to second on a passed ball. Andrew Zitel took advantage of the runner in scoring position and hit a hard, fading line-drive into rightfield for a standup RBI double to get the Mountaineers on the board.
Strowd got himself into another jam in the fifth after giving up back-to-back singles to Casey Burnham and Vosik. He then walked the bases loaded. Strowd struck out the ensuing batter, but Nolan Metcalf ended his day on a two RBI single that extended the Jayhawk lead 5-1.
“I was super encouraged” Stated Mazey. “Last couple times out its been a lot of walks. He doesn’t get hit much. Opponents batting average is less than 200 against him. We just needed to get him back in the strike zone today and he did that. Your looking up and they’re hitting everything he’s throwing out there. We’ll just have to go back and watch the video and try to figure that out. I was, in a weird way, encouraged with what he did today.”
Randy Mazey went to his bullpen and brought him freshman left-hander Zach Reid. With runners at the corners, Reid got out of the inning striking out James Cosentino and Sems flied out to centerfield.
In the seventh, Reid grounded out Vosik and Ditzenberger, then Mazey brought in righthander Zach Ottinger to face righthanded hitter and one of the leagues best hitters Jaxx Groshens.
Groshens delivered with a base hit up the middle and Nolan Metcalf followed with a single back up the middle.
Mazey again went to his bullpen, this time bringing in freshmen Beau Lowery. He hit James Cosentino on a 2-2 pitch to load the bases then walked in Sems to push the Kansas lead to five.
The Mountaineers got back into the game in the eighth and did all their damage with one out. Ivan Gonzalez got it started with a double into rightfield, followed by Darius Hill going the opposite way with a single through the left side. Then Marcus Inman brought in Gonzalez on an infield single over at third.
That brought out Kansas head coach Ritch Price to make a call to his bullpen for Eli Davis. It wouldn’t stop the Mountaineers momentum as Paul McIntosh doubled down the rightfield line, clearing the bases for a pair of runs.
Randy Mazey made another change, pinch-hitting Kevin Brophy for Andrew Zitel and he answered the call with an RBI single up the middle to get WVU within one and capping off a four run eighth inning.
With West Virginia down 6-5, TJ lake started the bottom on the ninth with a base hit to left-centerfield. Then with two outs, Darius Hill smacked a line drive into centerfield to put the tying run into scoring position.
Marcus Inman stepped to the plate looking for his third walk-off in eight days; however, despite battling at the plate, Inman was unable to connect as he went down swinging.
It’s a tough loss for the Mountaineers against the last place team in the conference. However, Kansas came into the series winning four out of their last five, including a win over nationally ranked Texas Tech and a series win on the road over Oklahoma State.
In baseball, its about winning series and the Mountaineers did just that, winning both games of the doubleheader Saturday afternoon.
West Virginia will be back in action Tuesday night against Penn State inside Monongalia County Ballpark at 7:00 pm.
|Team Batting Totals||39||5||13||5||4||0||0||0||10||1||0||0||8||0||1||27||10||1||—|