As Kansas State shortstop Nick Goodwin fired a throw too low for first baseman Dylan Phillips to handle, it felt like in a season full of hardships, that West Virginia had finally caught a break.
In the 11th inning, of a 4-3 win, the West Virginia University baseball team was able to do what they have done all year and battle their way back, this time though getting a victory.
West Virginia (15-16, 6-7 Big 12) ace Jackson Wolf got the start on the mound and dominated Kansas State (21-16, 5-8 Big 12) into the ninth inning. Wolf gave the Mountaineers all they could ask for, finishing with 10 strikeouts, giving up three runs, six hits, and leaving the game with no outs in the ninth inning after throwing 128 pitches and leaving with a 3-2 lead.
After Wolf gave up a leadoff walk to Zach Kokoska in the ninth, head coach Randy Mazey turned to sophomore Jacob Watters. Watters (3-0) entered the game giving up 15 walks, in 11.2 innings pitched, and it seemed as if Wolf’s start might go to waste. Watters started off with a strikeout, but then a wild pitch allowed Kokoska to advance to second, with one out. Watters then was able to get another strikeout, but the pitch bounced to the backstop, allowing the batter to reach and Kokoska to advance to third. Then, after a groundout in what would have been the final out of the game, Kansas State was able to tie the game at 3-3 and ruined Wolf’s magnificent start, and gave Kansas State momentum heading into extra innings.
In the 11th inning, Matt Mccormick doubled to get the Mountaineers in scoring position with one out. After a Kevin Brophy groundout advanced Mccormick to third, freshman Nathan Blasick came into the game to hit, and hit a ground ball in between the third baseman and shortstop Goodwin, with Goodwin’s momentum taking him away from first and fired a throw across his body that could not be handled, and gave West Virginia a 4-3 lead.
In the bottom of the 11th, it was Watters who was called upon again, in his third inning of work. Watters worked around a leadoff hit by pitch, and then got two strikeouts and a groundout to end the game.
In what looked like another late inning blunder for the Mountaineers, the ball bounced the right way this time, and then Watters was able to command his pitches just enough to preserve Wolf’s start, and preserve a win.
Photo by Dale Sparks, WVU