MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–In the bottom of the eighth, West Virginia scored three runs, propelling the Mountaineers to an 8-6 victory over No. 19 Texas on Saturday afternoon.
WVU (21-19, 5-9 Big 12) scored eight runs on 13 hits. Sophomore Alek Manoah earned the win. He pitched 1.2 scoreless innings and got out of a bases loaded jam with no outs in the ninth.
“With the game on the line like that, you want the ball in the hands of your guy that lives for a moment like that, and that’s Alek Manoah,” head coach Randy Mazey said. “Guys at the plate who live for a moment like that, you want them at the plate. You can talk to freshmen all you want about ‘Do you want to pitch against Texas in front of 3000 people with the game on the line?’ They’ll all say, ‘Yeah,’ but then when it gets here, it’s not what they expected. Sometimes the moment gets to them a little bit, and that’s just part of being a freshman. It’s hard to teach. It’s experience that has to teach you that. All of our guys that are going through this with the energy and excitement of the crowd are going to get that much better next time around.
Kyle Gray led WVU’s offense with two hits and three RBIs on a pair of home runs.
Andy McGuire (0-2) suffered the loss for the Longhorns (30-16, 12-5).
The Mountaineers jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first. Brandon White got on with an infield single and stole second. Then Darius Hill’s single up the middle plated the sophomore center fielder.
DJ Petrinsky gave Texas the lead with a 2-1 homer in the second. However, WVU responded in the bottom half when Braden Zarbnisky’s fielder’s choice drove in Isaiah Kearns.
The Longhorns went up 3-2 in the third but the lead wouldn’t last long. Gray’s solo shot to right center nodded the game at 3-3.
The Mountaineers took the lead in the fifth on Gray’s two-run dinger.
Texas rallied to score three runs in the eighth inning, one unearned. A bases-loaded walk scored the first run before Kody Clemens’ single brought in the last two.
Trailing 6-5, WVU used that late inning magic to down the Longhorns. With the bases loaded and one out, a wild pitch scored the game-tying run. White followed with an infield single, scoring pinch-hitter Chase Illig. Zarbnisky scored on a wild pitch to give the Mountaineers an 8-6 advantage.
Manoah gave up three straight singles to load the bases with no outs. But the lefty recorded back-to-back strikeouts and then Masen Hibbeler flied out to end the game.
The series concludes on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS