MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (April 21, 2019) – The No. 20 West Virginia University baseball team rallied with a four-run eighth inning, but it was not enough in a 6-5 loss to Kansas in the series finale on Sunday afternoon at Monongalia County Ballpark.
The Mountaineers (24-14, 8-7 Big 12), who secured their fourth consecutive series win with a pair of victories yesterday, trailed 6-1 but came back with four runs on five hits in the eighth to make it a one-run game. WVU put two on with two outs in the ninth inning, with the winning run on first, but the Jayhawks (20-18, 5-10 Big 12) got a strikeout to end the game and avoid the sweep.
West Virginia suffered its third loss in 16 home games this season. In addition to its four consecutive Big 12 series victories, WVU has won 10 of its last 13 games.
“We had only four hits after six innings and ended up with 13, so yeah, when we start winning games, our last three games we won by walk-offs, you just get confidence in the last couple innings that you’re going to come back and win the game,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “(Kansas) played well, they came out swinging the bat against (Kade) Strowd. People don’t hit Strowd like that, so they did a good job. If you’re in the Big 12, yeah, I get it, you’re playing a last-place team, but the last place team beats the first place team all the time. Nothing to be ashamed about, it just feels bad to win a series when you’ve won the first two. If you’ve split the first two and win the series, you go home feeling great right now. We’re still playing well, but you’re right, that was a good battle at the end.”
Kansas took a 3-0 lead in the first inning before West Virginia scored one in the second. KU made it 5-1 in the fifth and 6-1 in the seventh. WVU, which was held to four hits in the first six innings, had a pair of two-out hits in the seventh before cutting the deficit to one in the eighth to make it 6-5. The Mountaineers had two hits in the ninth, but could not tie the game or walk it off.
Junior right-hander Kade Strowd suffered the loss and falls to 4-4 on the season. In 4.1 innings, he allowed five runs on eight hits with five strikeouts and a walk. Four relievers followed to hold the Jayhawks to a run on four hits in the final 4.2 innings.
Offensively, WVU’s five runs came on 13 hits. Senior right fielder Darius Hill and sophomore designated hitter Paul McIntosh each had three hits, while McIntosh added an RBI and two runs scored. Junior pinch hitter Kevin Brophy had two RBIs on an eighth-inning, pinch-hit single.
Kansas took a 3-0 lead in the first inning. The Jayhawks’ first run came on an RBI single up the middle with one out before back-to-back two-out run-scoring hits, on a double and a single.
WVU answered with a run in the second to make it 3-1, as senior second baseman Andrew Zitel doubled home McIntosh with no outs. McIntosh led off the frame with a single to center and took second on a passed ball.
Strowd faced the minimum in the second, third and fourth innings before KU added two in the fifth to extend its lead to 5-1. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases before a one-out single brought in two runs. Senior left-hander Zach Reid relieved Strowd and got a strikeout and flyout to end the inning and strand runners on the corners.
Kansas made it 6-1 on a bases-loaded walk in the seventh. West Virginia had two two-out hits in the bottom half, but could not add a run before its four-run eighth.
In WVU’s eighth, senior catcher Ivan Gonzalez doubled and Hill singled to put two on with one out for junior first baseman Marques Inman, who reached on an infield single that scored Gonzalez from third. After Kansas went to its bullpen, McIntosh doubled down the right-field line to score Hill, and Brophy followed with a pinch-hit single up the middle to bring in Inman and McIntosh. With the tying run on first, KU got a flyout and a strikeout to end the inning and take a 6-5 advantage into the ninth.
Freshman right-hander Brock Helverson got a double play to end the top of the ninth after a leadoff walk. In the bottom half, a leadoff single and two-out base hit put two on, but a strikeout ended the game.
The Mountaineers welcome Penn State to Morgantown on Tuesday, April 23, at 7 p.m.
Press Release Courtesy: WVU Athletics Communications
Cover Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS