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Kyle West’s 2 Homers Not Enough as WVU Baseball Walked-Off By UNC

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WVU Baseball INF Kyle West (39) celebrates his homer against UNC on June 7, 2024 at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C. in the NCAA Tournament Super Regionals. (Mitchell Northam / WV Sports Now)
Kyle West (39) celebrates his homer against UNC on June 7, 2024 at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C. in the NCAA Tournament Super Regionals. (Mitchell Northam / WV Sports Now)

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Unfortunately for WVU Baseball, Kyle West’s heroics weren’t enough.

After tallying just one hit in his last 10 games, the senior infielder, who played the last two seasons at Division II University of Charleston, finished the day with three hits – two of them home runs – and a game-high four RBI. His second dinger of the day, which looked like it landed in UNC’s field hockey stadium, gave the West Virginia Mountaineers a two-run lead in the top of the sixth inning.

But it wouldn’t last.

Fourth-overall-seeded North Carolina got solo home runs from Colby Wilkerson and Luke Stevenson to tie the game up, then Vance Honeycutt hammered a pitch from Aidan Major over the left field wall for a two-run walk-off homer, giving the Tar Heels an 8-6 victory over WVU in front of an announced crowd of 4,139 fans at Boshamer Stadium on Friday night.

Somewhat surprisingly, it’s the first loss for the Mountaineers in this NCAA Tournament.

Now, WVU, playing in the Super Regional stage of the postseason for the first time ever, will play the Tar Heels again on Saturday night at 8 p.m. in what is a win-or-go-home game for the Mountaineers.

WVU must take a victory to force a decisive Game 3 on Sunday. A loss will make it the final game of head coach Randy Mazey’s career. A win would put the Mountaineers one step closer to Omaha.

On the mound, WVU ace Derek Clark nearly pitched a complete game. He got pulled not long after giving up the homer to Stevenson in the bottom of the ninth after having thrown an astounding season-high 144 pitches. Clark gave up seven hits and three walks while striking out eight.

Major managed to strikeout one before giving up that no-doubter to Honeycutt who, like WVU’s JJ Wetherholt, is expected to be a first-round pick in the upcoming MLB amateur draft.

Scoreless through two innings, West finally put the Mountaineers on the board in the top of the third inning when he connected on a 1-2 offering from UNC starter Shea Sprague, sending the ball 359 feet and over the wall in right-centerfield for a solo homer. It was Hedgesville native’s first dinger since May 3.

Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, UNC’s bats came alive in the bottom of the frame. After pitching two no-hit innings, Clark surrendered a walk, an infield single and another walk to load the bases. Then, UNC first baseman Parks Harber hit a single into left center. The ball was mishandled in the outfield and all three of the Tar Heels’ runners scored as Harber advanced to second on the error. Harber was then brought home when Gavin Gallaher singled to left field.

West then added another RBI to his collection in the top of the fourth, singling to right-center to score Brodie Kresser.

Then, in the top of the sixth, the Mountaineers jumped all over what UNC’s pitchers. Sprague exited the game after giving up a two-run homer to Reed Chumley that tied the game and a single to Grant Hussey. After Kresser fouled out, West stepped to the plate again and crushed the first pitch he saw from Carolina reliever Matthew Matthijs, sending it over the right field fence, giving the Mountaineers a 6-4 lead. It was the 14th dinger of the year for West and it came at an incredibly crucial moment.

Wilkerson got a run back for Carolina with a solo homer in the bottom of the seventh, and then Luke Stevenson drilled the first pitch of the ninth inning 408 feet into centerfield to tie the game up in the bottom of the ninth.

Stay with WV Sports Now as WVU Baseball has one more chance to keep their season alive on Saturday.

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