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Mountaineers Strike Late Again to Beat Longhorns 9-8, Win Series

The Mountaineers are clutch, that’s all there is to it.

Randy Mazey

#17 West Virginia Mountaineers: 9

Texas Longhorns: 8

For the second consecutive game, and 4th time in two weeks, the Mountaineers (26-14) (10-7) took a late lead that propelled them to victory as they took the ‘Horns down 9-8 on Saturday afternoon.

As much as yesterday’s game was a pitchers duel, today was an offensive showcase and a defensive nightmare. With 17 runs scored, 22 hits and 6 errors, today’s game was back-and-forth the entire way.

The Longhorns (24-21) (5-11) jumped on Jackson Wolf early, scoring a run in the bottom of the 1st on a Ryan Reynolds RBI single.

WVU struck 3 times in the 3rd inning, but all the runs were unearned after an error by Hibbeler allowed Phillip Dull to reach to begin the inning. Brandon White delivered a 2-out RBI single to right field that scored Tevin Tucker from 3rd and then 2 more runs scored on a single by Ivan Gonzalez, which was preceded by consecutive walks by Darius Hill and Marques Inman.

The Longhorns added an unearned run 2 innings later on a single by Zach Zubia, making it 3-2. The runner was able to score after an error by freshman 3B Phillip Dull, getting his second consecutive start at the hot corner.

In the top of the 4th, Brandon White and Darius Hill each had RBI singles to plate 2 more runs and put the Mountaineers on top 5-2.

Texas used the long ball to get back in the game in the bottom of the 5th. After Jackson Wolf was removed following the 4th inning, Dillon Meadows entered from the bullpen. Hibbeler hit a solo home run to lead off the inning and Zubia followed a few batters later with a 2-run shot to tie the game at 5.

Wolf (2-2, 3.36 ERA) did an okay job on the mound today for WVU: he threw just 4.0 innings, allowing 2 runs (1 earned), with 3 hits, 2 walks and 2 strikeouts.

However, the Mountaineers didn’t waste any time before taking the lead back. Brandon White, who had himself a game today, executed the safety squeeze to perfection, bringing Phillip Dull in from 3rd on the sacrifice bunt to the pitcher to put WVU back on top 6-5 after 6.

Tristen Hudson (1-0, 1.97 ERA) had a rough outing today for WVU, getting touched for 2 runs in 0.1 innings, when Texas took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the 7th. After two men got on to start the frame, Ryan Reynolds roped a 2-RBI double down the right field line. That prompted a pitching change from Mazey, who went to Zach Reid. He surrendered another run, charged to Hudson, on a sacrifice fly by Tate Shaw to extend the UT lead to 8-6.

As the scoreboard flipped over to the 8th inning, the Mountaineers flipped their clutch on, too.

Phillip Dull hit a 1-out double and then advanced to 3rd on an infield single by Tevin Tucker, putting runners on the corners with just 1 down. Tucker, who has 15 stolen bases on the season, swiped second on his own merit, but was helped out by Texas’ catcher Michael McCann who threw it into center field and let Dull trot home and Tucker advance to 3rd. That narrowed the lead to 8-7. Tucker was thrown out at the plate by 1B Zubia on a fielders choice by Tyler Doanes.

I’m deeming Marques Inman, “Mr. Clutch”. He tied the game in the top of the 9th on a RBI double to right field, delivering yet another big hit for the Mountaineer offense. Speedy Austin Davis pinch-ran for Inman, and was gifted with a free 3rd base after a 1-out balk by Texas pitcher Kamron Fields. That allowed Mazey to go to his favorite situational play - the safety squeeze. He put it on with TJ Lake in the box, who executed it to perfection, allowing Davis to score and give WVU at 9-8 lead.

Sam Kessler entered in the bottom of the 9th, but looked to have some fatigue after throwing 2 innings last night. He allowed a leadoff single to Austin Todd and then walked Sam Bertelson to put runners on 1st and 2nd with nobody out. However, he’s the closer for a reason, and he performed some magic to get the Mountaineers out of the jam.

He induced Reynolds into a groundout, putting runners on the corners with 1 out. In this situation, he needed either a strikeout or a double play. Kessler decided for the former.

After a long full-count at-bat, Kessler snuck one by Shaw to get the second out. He then made a nice 1st pitch to get Duke Ellis to fly out to left field and end the game, giving WVU yet another Big XII series victory and the chance for a sweep on Sunday afternoon.

This win gave the #17 Mountaineers their 26th of the season with 12 to play. They’re definitely the hottest team in the Big XII right now, and are going to be moving up in the rankings again this week after a series win on the road in Austin.

WVU will go for the sweep tomorrow at 1PM with Kade Strowd on the mound. Let’s go, Mountaineers!