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WVU Baseball Squeezes Out Wild 5-4 Win at Baylor



WVU Baseball HC Randy Mazey

The No. 18 WVU baseball team eked out a 5-4 win on the road against Baylor on Friday night. 

Mountaineers’ starter Ben Hampton ran into trouble near the end of his day, but a clutch hit from a true freshman thrust into the game out of necessity pushed West Virginia past Baylor. The Mountaineers’ bullpen turned in three perfect frames at the end of the game to secure the victory as West Virginia won their sixth game in a row, retaining their place atop the Big 12.

The Mountaineers took a 2-0 lead in the first, courtesy of a two-out rally. Baylor starter Mason Marriott hit left fielder Landon Wallace with a pitch to begin the scoring push. Right fielder Caleb McNeely drew a walk, and the runners moved into scoring position on an error. Catcher Dayne Leonard pulled a single to left to score both. 

Center fielder Braden Barry roped a double down the left field line in the second, taking third on an infield single from third baseman Sam White. Shortstop Tevin Tucker blooped a squeeze bunt towards first base to open a 3-0 lead. 

A pair of singles put runners at the corners in the bottom of the frame, with Baylor first baseman John Ceccoli plating a run with a sacrifice fly. 

West Virginia barely missed out on another run in the third. McNeely drew another walk, stealing second and getting gifted third for his trouble on an error from Baylor catcher Cortlan Castle. Leonard lifted a would-be sacrifice fly to left field, but McNeely got thrown out at the plate to end the inning.

Barry tripled with two away in the fourth, but the Mountaineers couldn’t spark another two-out rally. 

Bears Bite Back

The Bears managed a run of their own, though, when third baseman Jack Johnson singled and Ceccoli doubled him home to make it 3-2 in the bottom of the inning. 

Designated hitter Walker Polk singled and Castle doubled in the sixth to put two runners in scoring position. Johnson hit into a fielder’s choice, with second baseman Ellis Garcia throwing home to save a run. Hampton looked like he might escape the threat after inducing a foul out, but left fielder Casey Sunseri doubled into the left field corner to score both as Baylor pulled ahead 4-3.

West Virginia tried to plate the tying run via small ball in the seventh. White got hit by a pitch, moving to second and then third on a Tucker bunt and a groundout by designated hitter JJ Wetherholt. Wallace walked and stole second to advance the go-ahead run into scoring position.

Wait, What?

With McNeely up to bat trailing 1-2, Castle stepped out from behind the plate to direct the Bears’ defense. McNeely stepped out of the box during the de facto timeout, and home plate umpire Mike Morris called him out on strikes for a pitch clock violation despite Castle not being ready to receive the pitch either. Mountaineers’ head coach Randy Mazey argued his case with the umpires, eventually convincing them to review (and then extend) McNeely’s at-bat. McNeely ended up going down looking to end the inning. 

Aidan Major took over for Hampton in the seventh, retiring the side with two strikeouts.

First baseman Grant Hussey reached second base on a fly ball that Sunseri dropped in the eighth. Barry drew a walk, and true freshman Evan Smith (who entered the game after White was shaken up by the hit by pitch) doubled to right to put West Virginia up 5-4. 

Major worked another perfect frame in the eighth, preserving West Virginia’s narrow lead.

The Mountaineers put runners on second and third in the ninth, but couldn’t scrape across any insurance runs.

Carlson Reed relieved Major in the ninth, retiring the side and earning a pair of strikeouts and putting the win on ice.

WVU Baseball moves to 31-11 on the season (9-4 Big 12). Their series with the Bears continues at 3pm EDT Saturday.

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