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WVU Baseball Wins Backyard Brawl at PNC Park 9-4



WVU baseball INF Caleb McNeely

WVU Baseball won the opening game of the 2023 Backyard Brawl on Wednesday at PNC Park, defeating the Pittsburgh Panthers 9-4. The win marks the third straight Brawl victory for Mountaineers’ baseball.

The Panthers took an early 4-0 lead, but the Mountaineers’ offense found their footing as the game wore on. Shortstop Tevin Tucker continued to acquit himself excellently out of the leadoff spot in place of injured Mountaineers’ star JJ Wetherholt. Tucker went 3-for-4 with a walk on the day and made a pair of phenomenal plays in the field. 

With the Mountaineers acting as the home team, Panthers’ third baseman Sky Duff began the first with a single. First baseman Noah Martinez doubled him home, and second baseman Justin Acal singled Martinez in to make it 2-0. 

Shortstop Tevin Tucker hit a leadoff single for the Mountaineers, but Panthers’ catcher Johnny Long III caught him stealing.

The Panthers doubled their lead in the third. Martinez hit his second double of the game, scoring after center fielder Kyle Hess reaching on a fielding error. Hess took third on a balk, and left fielder Caleb Sturtevant singled him home on an infield hit that two Mountaineers couldn’t quite reach to make it 4-0.

Death By 1,000 Paper Cuts

The Mountaineers got six hits in the bottom of the inning, all of them singles—including five in a row to start the inning. Left fielder Landon Wallace reached on an infield single to break the ice, and catcher Dayne Leonard plated two more with a single of his own. Right fielder Caleb McNeely wore a pitch to reload the bases, after which Panthers’ starter Matthew Fernandez rebounded to record two outs. Center fielder Braden Barry hit an infield single to tie it, and designated hitter Logan Sauve drew a walk to go up 5-4.

Mountaineers Take Control

West Virginia padded their lead in the fourth. Tucker hit his third single of the game, stealing second successfully this time. Wallace drew a walk, and the Mountaineers worked a double steal. Panthers pitcher Jonathan Bautista went wild on the throw, allowing Tucker to score from second. McNeely singled Wallace home, and the Mountaineers loaded the bases with an Ellis Garcia single and a Sauve hit by pitch. Barry drove a ball to the left-center gap, but Hess made a magnificent diving catch to rob him of a hit—and the Mountaineers of extra runs. 

The lead stretched to 8-4 on the play, though, when McNeely came home on the sacrifice fly.

Grant Siegel took the mound for West Virginia in the sixth, pitching three scoreless innings and striking out four. 

McNeely homered to straightaway center in the sixth, with the ball landing in the Mountaineers’ bullpen. 

The Panthers put runners on second and third with one out in the seventh, but Siegel worked two strikeouts to leave them empty handed.

WVU Baseball moves to 26-11 on the season; the Panthers drop to 16-19. The Mountaineers host the TCU Horned Frogs starting at 6:30pm Friday, with Ben Hampton (3-1, 4.10 ERA) set to start. 

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