CONWAY, S.C. – The West Virginia University baseball team lost the opening game of the Brittain Resorts Invitational, 6-2 in 11 innings, to VCU on Friday afternoon at Springs Brooks Stadium.
In the first of four games in three days in Conway, South Carolina, the Mountaineers (1-3) where held to two runs on 10 hits with one error. The Rams (2-3) scored six runs on 11 hits with three errors.
The game was West Virginia’s first extra-inning contest of the season.
Both teams scored a pair of runs in the sixth inning before VCU scored four in the 11th. The Mountaineers’ sixth-inning answer came courtesy of junior pinch-hitter Andrew Zitel, who singled home both runs with two outs.
Senior right-handed starter BJ Myers had a strong start, allowing two runs on five hits with five strikeouts and no walks in 6.1 innings. Fellow senior righty Shane Ennis relieved Myers in the seventh, stranding two baserunners, and followed with 2.2 shutout innings, allowing three hits with three strikeouts and no walks.
Ennis started the 10th inning, but gave up back-to-back singles to lead off the frame and was relieved by junior righty Conner Dotson. With runners on the corners and no outs, Dotson got out of the jam in the 10th before giving up four runs, three earned, in the 11th. He suffered his first loss of the year.
Junior catcher Ivan Gonzalez was one of three Mountaineers with two hits, while he added a run scored. Junior shortstop Jimmy Galuskyand sophomore center fielder Brandon White also had two hits. Gonzalez also threw out a career-high-tying two baserunners.
Both teams had runners reach in the first inning, but Gonzalez’s first caught-stealing of the day helped Myers face the minimum. A 1-2-3 second inning followed, before Myers got double plays in the third and fourth to again face the minimum. The trend continued in the fifth, as VCU was retired in order.
Meanwhile, Galusky singled in the third, and freshman third baseman Tyler Doanes singled in the fifth for his first career hit, but the Mountaineers could not get a run across.
Both teams plated two runs in the sixth inning. VCU’s top half began with a leadoff double and a one-out, RBI single. With runners on second and third following a double steal, a groundout scored the second run.
The Mountaineers answered with a pair of runs of their own in the bottom half. Back-to-back singles by junior second baseman Kyle Gray and Gonzalez got the inning going before sophomore designated hitter Chase Illig drew a two-out walk. Following a pitching change, Zitel singled through the right side to bring home Gray and Gonzalez.
VCU had a chance to regain the lead in the seventh, but Ennis came on with two on and one out and got a pair of strikeouts to end the inning. Gonzalez threw out his second runner of the game in the eighth before Ennis threw a perfect ninth to help send the game into extra innings.
In the 10th, back-to-back singles put runners on the corners to open the inning for the Rams. However, Dotson came in and needed just six pitches to get out of the inning. He threw home on a squeeze bunt attempt to get the first out, picked off the runner at second base for the second out and caught a sky-high pop-up in front of the mound for the third out of the inning.
The Rams scored four runs, one of them unearned, in the 11th inning to take a 6-2 lead, an advantage the Mountaineers could not overcome.
The weekend continues with two games tomorrow, vs. Illinois at 11 a.m. ET, and against VCU at 6 p.m. WVU and host Coastal Carolina square off on Sunday, Feb. 25, at 2:30 p.m., to conclude the weekend.
Photo Credit: Jeff Ruff, BGS
Press Release Courtesy: WVUSports.com