MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Tonight’s action was a no-doubter for the 28-18 West Virginia baseball team.
Monongalia County Ballpark opened its gates for the final midweek opponent of 2022: the 26-19 Pitt Panthers. After Pitt took the first game of this season’s Backyard Brawl series, WVU rallied back with an epic 11-inning, 3-2 win under the lights at PNC Park. Tonight, that will to win made an appearance once more.
Both sides of the Mountaineer lineup put together solid showings, but it was freshman right-handed starter Aidan Major who effectively kept the Panthers completely off the board. WVU head coach Randy Mazey started him at PNC Park on Apr. 20, and his three innings of shutout baseball and five strikeouts helped rein in the Panthers then. Tonight, he stayed atop the mound six innings, accumulating no hits, no runs, eight strikeouts, and two walks through 84 total pitches. Pitt’s batters didn’t score the single run of their night until Major exited the game and was relieved by Zach Ottinger.
By that time, the WVU batters had notched six runs on the Panthers. It began in the first inning, when Austin Davis started the West Virginia offense off with a single. JJ Wetherholt’s double moved Davis to third, and McGwire Holbrook came in at the clean-up spot to do just that. Holbrook smacked a single up the middle that scored the tops of the order. Braden Barry, up next, reached on a fielder’s choice that got Holbrook out at second base. The Mountaineer left fielder would add the third WVU run of the night a minute later.
Kevin Dowdell, earning a spot in the lineup, singled into right field and brought Barry home from third for the Mountaineers’ third run, all of which came off four hits in the first inning.
The Mountaineers struck again in the fourth inning, adding another three runs. This time, all three came off a single hit: a 409-ft, three-run home run onto the right field clubhouse roof off the bat of Victor Scott. The ball exited Scott’s bat at 105 mph and was an absolute bomb off contact. The center fielder followed Tevin Tucker and Davis home for the fourth, fifth, and sixth runs of the Mountaineers offense’s night. During Tucker’s time on the base path, he stole second, tying him with former Mountaineer Brandon White for all-time stolen bases (61).
The fifth and sixth innings saw clean pitching from both Major and Pitt right-handed relief pitcher Brady Devereux. Each bump occupant sat his respective sides down in both innings, and it proved Major’s final pitches of the outing. Major exited in the seventh inning, having collected a six inning no-hitter. In his place, Ottinger to start the seventh inning.
Two batters into the righty’s day on the mound, Ron Washington II stepped up to the plate. He hit a solo shot over the right field wall for not only the Panthers’ first hit of the night, but first score as well. One hit. One run, but the 6-1 lead still belonged to the Mountaineers. The seventh inning also continued to produce home runs.
The bottom of the inning, Barry stepped into the box and stared out at Scott standing on third and Holbrook at first. Runners on the corners, no outs, and a new relief pitcher in Quin Konuszewski on the mound set Barry up for success. The sophomore connected for his fourth home run of the season, and the ball flew over the left field wall. He followed Scott and Holbrook around the base paths for the seventh, eighth, and ninth West Virginia runs. A 9-1 Mountaineer lead would prove final two innings later, and the Mountaineers moved to 23-0 when leading after six innings.
Major earned his second win (2-0), while Pitt’s starter Jonathan Bautistia went back home with his first loss (0-1). WVU’s nine runs came from as many hits, while the Panthers added a second hit, also from Washington, to the catcher’s one-hit, one-run day.
West Virginia will travel next to Norman, Ok. to face the No. 21 Oklahoma Sooners this weekend. First pitch at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Friday is set for 7:30 p.m. EST.