MORGANTOWN, W.Va. –The West Virginia University baseball team rallied past UNLV 8-7 in the second game of a doubleheader on Friday afternoon.
The Mountaineers (12-15) dropped the first game 11-4.
WVU trailed 7-1 at one point but scored a run in the sixth and five in the eighth before junior second baseman Kyle Gray singled home the game-winning run with two outs in the ninth inning.
The Mountaineers’ bullpen held the Rebels (23-10) hitless in the final 4.0 innings.
“Our offense was going to wake up at any moment,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “Hopefully, the eighth inning today is going to propel us into the future, because we need to catch a rhythm offensively. Getting big hits like Kyle Gray did and Chase Illig did in the eighth inning, that’s how you get momentum. Hitting is contagious. The other guys in the dugout see that and, like I said, hopefully, that’ll carry over into the rest of the season.
In the eighth inning, sophomore pinch hitter Chase Illig hit a three-run double to pull the Mountaineers within one, at 7-6 before a groundout tied the game at 7-7.
Gray had two hits and two RBI. Illig added a hit and three RBI. Sophomore designated hitter Marques Inman had two hits while scoring three runs. He hit his second home run of the day in the fifth, pulling WVU within five.
UNLV scored four runs in the first inning on four hits. Back-to-back hits began the frame before Nick Rodriguez double and scored a run. A groundout and two-run home run by Max Smith gave the rebels a 4-0 edge.
The Mountaineers got one run back in the second inning on Andrew Zitel’s RBI base hit.
Sophomore right-handed starter Kade Strowd retired the order in the second and stranded one in the third and another in the fourth.
UNLV added three runs in the fifth inning to extend their lead to 7-1.
In the eight, WVU broke out the bats and tied the game 7-7. With the bases loaded, Gray singled through the right side to bring in the first run. Illig’s followed bases-clearing double made it a one-run game, 7-6. With one out, junior shortstop Jimmy Galusky grounded out, allowing pinch-runner Tyler Doanes to score from third.
In the ninth, left fielder Braden Zarbnisky walked to start the inning, advanced to second on a bunt and stole third. He scored on Gray’s two-out single to center field
The series finale will take place on Sunday, April 8, at noon ET.
Cover Photo credit: Shanna Rose, BGS