LAS VEGAS–Many of the newest members the West Virginia University baseball team have played a crucial role in the team’s 3-1 start this season.
Two freshman fueled a three-run ninth inning for the Mountaineers to carry WVU past UNLV 9-6 on Friday night in Las Vegas.
Freshman shortstop Jimmy Galusky drove in the game-winning run in the ninth inning. Freshman right fielder Darius Hill finished a three-hit, four-RBI performance with a two-run long ball to give the Mountaineers a three run cushion.
“That was a really good win for us,” head coach Randy Mazey said. “To win a game like that on the road, scoring three runs in the ninth, says a lot about the character of this team.”
Sophomore right-hander Conner Dotson got the final four outs of the game, earning his first career win.
Rebels’ starting pitcher DJ Myers was roughed up early on by WVU, giving up six runs in the first two innings.
The Mountaineers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning on a pair of home runs from Kyle Davis and Cole Austin.
The sophomore third baseman Davis drove the third pitch of the game over the left field wall. Hill singled and then Austin smashed a two-run homer over the left center wall. It was the first RBI of Austin’s career.
The Rebels would score a run in the bottom half of the inning on a pair of singles.
WVU tacked on three more runs in the second inning. Freshman left fielder Kyle Gray reached on a one-out but and moved to second when Davis walked.
Hill knocked in both Gray and Davis with a triple off the center field wall. It was the first triple and RBI of Hill’s career.
Austin reached on an error by UNLV’s second baseman, scoring Hill.
Junior right-hander Chad Donato cruised for the next two innings before the Rebels rallied in the fifth, stringing together four consecutive hits. Nick Rodriguez started the inning with a single before Justin Jones and Kyle Isbel put together back-to-back RBI doubles.
Payton Squier cut the deficit to 6-4 when he drove in Isbel.
In the seventh inning, Donato got in to trouble early when he walked the leadoff batter, who moved to second on a one-out bunt. But with two down, he picked of his second runner of the game to end the inning.
Donato’s luck changed the next inning when he surrendered a one-out single to Squier and hit Cooper Esmay with a pitch.
The Mountaineers went to their bullpen and brought in right-hander Brandon Boone, who gave up as double down the left-field line to Andrew Yazanbakhsh.
Squier scored easily on the two-base hit, and Esmay scored when Gray mishandled the ball short of the warning track.
After Boone loaded the bases, Dotson came on and got the final out.
Instead of backing down, WVU fired back in the top of the ninth. Senior center fielder KC Huth led off the inning with a walk and moved to second on the wild pickoff attempt and moved to third on a wild pitch.
Huth scored on Galusky’s single. The freshman then stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by the UNLV catcher. Hill smashed the ninth pitch of his at-bat over the fence in right for a two-run home run to give the Mountaineers a 9-6 lead.
“I wasn’t real sure what coach Mazey had in plan,” Galusky said. “I went up there to squeeze, bunt for a hit and he had faith in me. My teammates had faith in me.”
Dotson came back on in the ninth but pitched a scoreless inning, allowing just one hit.
Hill had three of WVU’s nine hits with a career-high four RBI.
Austin and Hill both hit their first collegiate career home runs.
UNLV’s Myers tossed six innings, giving up five earned runs on six hits.
Dotson pitched 7.2 innings with 10 strikeouts. He gave up five earned runs on 10 hits.
The second game of the series is Saturday at 5 p.m. (ET) when Ross Vance takes the mound for the Mountaineers.
Quotes Courtsey of WVU Sports