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WVU Baseball Can’t Capitalize in 9th; Ousted by UNC in Super Regional

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WVU Baseball pitcher Tyler Switalski pitches as the Mountaineers played against North Carolina on June 8, 2024, in the Super Regionals of the NCAA Tournament at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C. (Mitchell Northam / WV Sports Now)
WVU's Tyler Switalski pitches as the Mountaineers played against North Carolina on June 8, 2024, in the Super Regionals of the NCAA Tournament at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C. (Mitchell Northam / WV Sports Now)

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – At first, it appeared as though what the Tar Heels call “Bosh Magic” had spread to the West Virginia Mountaineers.

In the bottom the ninth inning, trailing by just a single run, WVU had loaded the bases up on UNC reliever Dalton Pence. There were two outs as Ben Lumsden approached the plate for the Mountaineers. Would WVU, like UNC did on Friday night, get a walk-off victory in the Super Regionals of the NCAA Tournament?

No, they would not.

Lumsden hit a ground ball down the first base line and Pence narrowly beat him in a foot race to the bag for the final out of the game.

So, WVU’s season – and the coaching career of Mountaineers’ skipper Randy Mazey – is over. After the reaching the Super Regionals for the first time in program history, WVU was swept by fourth-overall-seed North Carolina, losing 2-1 to the Tar Heels on Saturday night in Boshamer Stadium in front of an announced crowd of 4,491 fans.

As the Tar Heels dogpiled on the field after Pence tagged first base, Mazey walked calmly out of the dugout and hugged Tar Heels’ head coach Scott Forbes – a man he hired for a handful of days two decades ago at East Carolina.

WVU Baseball HC Randy Mazey looks on as WVU played against North Carolina on June 8, 2024, in the Super Regionals of the NCAA Tournament at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C. (Mitchell Northam / WV Sports Now)

Randy Mazey looks on as WVU played against North Carolina on June 8, 2024, in the Super Regionals of the NCAA Tournament at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C. (Mitchell Northam / WV Sports Now)

The way Friday night ended is the way Saturday night began for West Virginia’s baseball team: Seeing a ball hit by North Carolina’s Vance Honeycutt sail over the left field wall.

After Honeycutt walked off the Mountaineers with a two-run shot in Game One on Friday night, he blasted a lead-off dinger – the first pitch of Saturday’s Game Two – to nearly the exact same spot. That explosive offense didn’t necessarily continue for the Tar Heels, but still, the Mountaineers never quite matched them.

After Honeycutt’s homer, he scored again in the top of the third, scooting home on a single to left field from Parks Harber.

West Virginia starter Tyler Switalski settled into the game after giving up those pair of early runs. Following Harber’s RBI, Switalski retired 11 consecutive batters before walking Luke Stevenson and giving up a single to Alberto Osuna midway through the top of the seventh inning. Switalski, after striking out four in 6.1 innings, was then relieved by sophomore right-hander Carson Estridge, who loaded the bases but then struck out Honeycutt to get out of the inning unscathed.

Estridge would finish the game, striking out six UNC hitters in 2.2 shutout innings of work.

Meanwhile, WVU’s hitters had a difficult time connecting on offerings from UNC’s Jason DeCaro. The 6-foot-5 freshman righty from New York was dominant, striking out five batters and allowing just two hits, two walks and no runs through 6.1 innings. He was relieved by Dalton Pence, who inherited one baserunner from DeCaro and then gave up a walk. Kyle West then stepped to the plate and delivered again for the Mountaineers, singling into left field to score Reed Chumley.

However, WVU then stranded two runners – the game-tying and go-ahead runs – as Pence struck out Lumsden.

Pence loaded the bases again in the bottom of the ninth, giving up a single to Sam White, and walks to Grant Hussey and Kyle West.

While the West Virginia is still hunting for its first appearance in the College World Series, the Tar Heels are heading to Omaha, Nebraska for the 12th time in program history. It’s the first time UNC has advanced to Omaha since 2018, and the first time they’ve done it under Forbes, who is in his fourth-year leading the Heels.

That will be the goal now for incoming WVU baseball head coach Steve Sabins. After working under Mazey for the past nine seasons, the expectation now is for him to keep building on what the Mountaineers accomplished in his predecessor’s final campaign.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Richard I Lee

    June 8, 2024 at 11:42 pm

    The Mountaineers went down fighting in both games against the number 4 team in the nation – nothing to be ashamed of. UNC now is something like 37-3 at home.
    When is the NCAA finally going to go to neutral sites for these regional baseball and women’s basketball tournaments? It gives the home team such a big advantage.

  2. gary soltes

    June 9, 2024 at 7:10 am

    2 great games i loved them.our batters looked at first strike at least 20 times does or coaches ever look to ask why .it is like we only get to strikes per batter.watch first go by and swing at a bat pitch next.better luck next year still a big fan.

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