MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Sophomore first baseman Marques Inman hit his third home run of the series, helping West Virginia defeat UNLV 7-5 on Sunday afternoon at Monongalia County Ballpark.
The Mountaineers (13-15) took two-of-three from the Rebels (23-11), who were ranked No. 26.
Over the weekend, Inman batted .750 with six hits, five RBI, five runs scored, a 1.875 slugging percentage and three walks.
WVU scored seven runs on 13 hits. UNLV tallied five runs on seven hits.
“Yeah, we needed to hit,” Mountaineers’ coach Randy Mazey said. “I’ve been saying it all along. We’re going to start hitting. It’s just a matter of getting back home and sleeping in our own beds. Hopefully, the weather will start warming up a little bit. We just haven’t hit our rhythm yet offensively, and it’s no different than when we stood here last year at the end of March, beginning of April. I’ll say the same thing. You play on the road the first month-and-a-half, playing on different fields all the time with different backgrounds, sleeping in different beds. It’s just hard to get a rhythm that way. So, in past years, this is about the time when we take off offensively. Hopefully, it’ll be the same.”
Junior Braden Zarbnisky had three hits and scored three runs. Also, he tossed 5.0 innings, surrendering three runs on three hits while striking out three.
“It’s pretty rare when a guy throws the first pitch for his team and sees the first pitch from the other team,” Mazey added. “There are other two-way guys around the nation, but to be a leadoff guy and steal bases and get hits, that’s super valuable. That’s why I think he finished, second in the nation in two-way player of the year voting last year. I wouldn’t trade him for anything.”
Junior catcher Ivan Gonzalez had two hits and two RBI while scoring one run. Junior right fielder Darius Hill had three hits.
Senior right-hander Shane Ennis earned his third save of the season.
The Rebels jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Kyle Isbel’s sacrifice fly to right field brought home Bryson Stott from third.
However, WVU responded right back in the bottom half to take a 2-1 lead on Inman’s two-run bomb to left field.
In the third, the Mountaineers tacked on another run. Back-to-back singles and a walk loaded the bases for junior Kyle Gray, who plated Gonzalez on his fielder’s choice.
But UNLV wasn’t going down without a fight and made it a 3-2 deficit in the top of the fifth.
In the bottom half, WVU added two runs. Zarbnisky led off the inning with a base hit and advance to second on Hills’ infield single. Back-to-back singles from Inman and Gray made it 5-2.
The Mountaineers picked up two more in the sixth, extending their lead to 7-2. A two-out RBI single up the middle by Gonzalez scored both runs, which were unearned after a fielding error to open the frame.
Then the Rebels scored three in the seventh inning. Two walks and a single loaded the bases and ended Sam Kessler’s afternoon. Ennis came on in relief and struck out Stott for the first out. A throwing error by Andrew Zitel allowed two runs to score before UNLV picked up the final one on a fielder’s choice.
Ennispitched a perfect eighth inning. In the ninth, a runner reached on an error with two outs and a walk put two on but Ennis got a strikeout to end the game.
On Tuesday, April 10, WVU will play Penn State at PNC Park at 6:30 p.m. (ET).
The Mountaineers and Nittany Lions meet at PNC Park for the second season in a row, after WVU won last year’s inaugural college game at the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-2.
Cover Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS