The West Virginia Mountaineers continued to do what they have done since the Baylor series: win games. This time the Mountaineers used a complete game, 3 hit shutout by ace Alek Manoah and a clutch 9th-inning blast to centerfield by Marques Inman to win game one on Saturday against the Kansas Jayhawks.
In game two, the Mountaineers took a 3-1 lead into the ninth inning before the Jayhawks tied the game up. The Mountaineers had a chance to win it in the 9th but an amazing grab by the Jayhawks centerfielder saved the tied, for the time being, despite the player crashing into his own right-fielder.
The Mountaineers would finally secure the win when the Jayhawks unleashed a wild pitch in the 11th and the Mountaineers stood victorious 4-3.
The Mountaineers have now won 4 consecutive Big 12 series and the remaining schedule eases up after facing ranked teams to start. West Virginia now sits at 8-7 in conference and only 2 games out of first place, held by the Oklahoma State Cowboys at 10-5. West Virginia faces Penn State on Tuesday in the mid-week matchup before taking on the Texas Longhorns (5-9 in conference), in Austin, Texas.
Now, unlike college football and basketball, where the Associated Press (AP) ranking is understood as the poll to follow, college baseball has about 6 different polls, each of which claim to be the best.
Two of those polls, D1Baseball and Baseball America have WVU in the Top 25 as of Monday morning.
D1Baseball puts West Virginia at 17th, just ahead of #18 Texas Tech.
A cluster of four teams from the Big 12 reflect how competitive that league is. West Virginia moves up three spots to No. 17, and Texas Tech jumps to No. 18 after taking a series from Baylor, which falls three spots to No. 21. Oklahoma State returns to the rankings at No. 22 after scoring 36 runs in a three-game sweep of Texas.
Baseball America was impressed by the Mountaineers, jumping them 7 spots to 18th after just sneaking into the rankings last week.
Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but righthander Alek Manoah was untouchable in his start Saturday. He threw yet another shutout, this one almost identical to the one before. After allowing four hits and no walks with 15 strikeouts last week against Texas Tech, he gave up three hits and no walks with 15 strikeouts against Kansas. Adding to the intrigue of such a well-played game was the ending, which was a walk-off home run from first baseman Marques Inman. Two KU runs in the top of the ninth pushed the nightcap to extra innings, but the Mountaineers walked it off again, this time in the 11th, when center fielder Brandon White scored on a wild pitch. WVU’s case to host a regional just got a little stronger
The official NCAA website hasn’t updated their rankings yet, which is where you’ll find polls for both sites listed above, but also for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America (NCBWA), Collegiate Baseball, RPI, and the USA Today Coaches Poll.
The NCAA Tournament is within our reach, can we grab it?