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WVU Baseball Wins Backyard Brawl 3-2 in 11 Innings at PNC Park



West Virginia took on Pitt in this season’s second edition of the Backyard Brawl Wednesday afternoon and came away with an extra innings victory, 3-2.

The Mountaineers (23-12) stole successfully 10 times in the game and held the Pitt Panthers (21-14) to just three hits in the game. The Mountaineers got revenge on the Panthers, who beat them back at Charles L. Cost Field on Apr. 6, 9-6, and have a chance to beat them again on May 10 in Morgantown. Mountaineer head coach Randy Mazey liked his team’s aggressiveness today on the bases and says that their style of play is a big contributor to today’s victory and also throughout this season.

“It’s amazing to me that we haven’t won more than games than we’ve won because of that,” Mazey said. “We could’ve easily lost that game with 10 steals. It’s hard to do. It’s like rushing for 1200 yards and losing a game. We got to find a way to get hits with men in scoring position. We get on base, we move around the bases, we run, we steal, but have a little trouble getting them in right now. We’ll address that. It’s just, kids get caught up in the situation more than the fundamentals.”

Both teams struggled to score early on as neither team could put anything together to get some runs going.

The Mountaineers opened the scoring in the third inning. After back-to-back singles by redshirt junior shortstop Tevin Tucker and senior outfielder Austin Davis, first-year infielder JJ Wetherholt moved Tucker to third on a fielder’s choice. Tucker scored after a wild pitch from Panthers first-year starting pitcher Jonathan Bautista.

WVU’s own first-year starting pitcher Aidan Major had a great outing against Pitt, pitching three complete innings, allowing no hits and striking out five batters.

West Virginia looked to add to their tally in the fifth inning with runners on second and third with two outs. Tucker, who was on third base, looked to steal home, but got tagged out by Pitt junior catcher Tatem Levins. Argument between the umpire and West Virginia coaches lead to a full umpire discussion about whether Levins blocked the plate. After some time, they determined that Levins didn’t block the plate and the game moved to the bottom of the fifth.

Pitt didn’t get a hit until the fifth inning, but made the most of it when they finally got on the board. Senior infielder Jeffrey Wehler doubled into deep right center and then scored off a single by Levins that went past WVU third baseman Wetherholt, tying the game at one run a piece.

The Mountaineers responded by retaking the lead in the top of the sixth inning. Despite two early outs, redshirt junior catcher Dayne Leonard walked and then took second base on a wild pitch, while first-year first baseman Grant Hussey got hit by a pitch.

Both runners then stole third base and second base, respectively, before Panther first-year pitcher Tyler Kennedy overthrew the third baseman and Leonard stole home to give the Mountaineers a 2-1 lead.

Pitt tied the game in the bottom half of the same inning. First-year left fielder Josh Overbeek walked and then Dom Popa hit a triple to left field near the foul wall that allowed Overbeek to make it home from first base.

West Virginia missed two big opportunities to take the lead late in the game. With two runners on second and third base in the eighth inning, redshirt senior catcher Vince Ippoliti struck out on a full count. WVU loaded the bases in the ninth inning, but sophomore utility Ben Abernathy flied out to center field.

The Panthers loaded the bases themselves in the bottom of the ninth, but first-year infielder Tommy Tavarez struck out to make the game go into extra innings.

The Mountaineers looked to break the deadlock in the top of the 10th inning, when sophomore Nathan Blasick hit a triple to deep left center with one out. Ippoliti struck out and then first-year infielder Alex Khan grounded out to the first baseman, ending the Mountaineer scoring chance.

WVU finally scored in the 11th inning, thanks to defensive errors by Pitt. Tucker made it to first base after a bad throw from Tavarez sent the first baseman off the bag. Tucker then made it to second on a groundout from Davis, and finally scored off an error from Wehler that went over the first baseman.

The Panthers could not get on base in the bottom of the 11th, with two groundouts and a fly out, giving the victory to the Mountaineers.

Mazey enjoyed the Backyard Brawl, especially playing at a professional stadium like PNC Park. He also wants Pitt to be good so the rivalry is better not just for the team who wins, but increasing the fans at games when both teams play.

“It’s awesome,” Mazey said. “The Mountaineer fans get mad at me all the time when I say I actually want Pitt to be good, and they are good, and it makes me happy because it makes the rivalry better and stronger and it makes the games better. They’ve won four ACC series in a row and that excites me for those guys because it puts more implications on the game.”

West Virginia (23-12, 6-3) travels this weekend to Lubbock, Tx. to take on No. 8 Texas Tech in a three-game series, starting Apr. 22 at 7:30 p.m.


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