Winston-Salem, N.C.–The second-seeded West Virginia University baseball team belted six home runs to defeat third-seeded Maryland 9-1 on Friday afternoon at David F. Couch Ballpark.
For the first time in 21 years, the Mountaineers (35-24) returned to the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship and picked up a win.
“Every game we win, we are getting a little closer to our goal,” WVU head coach Randy Mazey said. “But like KD (Kyle Davis) said we didn’t come down here to win a game. It’s nice to win the first one but I think we showed today that we’re not just happy to be here. We came down here to win this thing and keep our season going. That’s been our mission the whole season and step one of our mission is complete but you can’t complete it without steps two, three, four and five.”
The Terrapins (37-25) scored one run on seven hits. WVU scored nine runs on 11 hits.
BJ Myers relieved starter Alek Manoah in the fourth and pitched a gem. The junior tossed 5.2 innings of four-hit baseball for the Mountaineers.
“BJ Myers, I think that might be, I’m not sure, his first relief appearance this year,” Mazey said. “BJ needed a little motivation. He’s kind of fallen into a little bit of a low lately and bringing him in out of bullpen I think is just what he needed to attack hitters and he really attacked them pretty well today. If you throw strikes you win and that’s what BJ does.”
Kyle Davis went 3-for-4 with two home runs. Jimmy Galusky went 2-for-4 with two home runs.
“It definitely gives us confidence,” Davis said of playing at David F. Couch Ballpark. “It’s fun to play at a park like that but it can also go against you a little bit. In the back of your mind you’re thinking you got an easier chance to hit a home run. It’s a shorter court so you might stray away from your mechanics and what you’re good at so you can try and get big and try and hit a home run. Whenever you try and hit a home run, it doesn’t really go your way. You end up making a dumb out.”
Cole Austin led off the second inning with a double down the left field line. With one out, Davis belted the first pitch over the left center wall to give the Mountaineers a 2-0 lead. Jimmy Galusky’s solo shot over the left field wall extended the lead to 3-0.
Manoah cruised through the first two innings. However, control issues plagued the freshman in the third. With one out Manoah walked Madison Nickens, who advanced to second on a groundout and scored on Zach Jancarski’s single. Then Manoah hit the next two batters before getting a groundout to end the frame.
But WVU got the run back in the bottom half on Ivan Gonzalez’s solo homer.
After hitting a batter and surrendering a single in the fourth, Manoah was lifted for Myers. A one-out bunt single loaded the bases but the right hander got out of the inning unscathed.
In the bottom of the fourth, Davis blasted a line drive over the left field wall to extend the Mountaineers lead to 5-1.
After Darius Hill singled and advanced to second on an error, Austin drove a dinger to deep center to give WVU a 7-1 advantage.
The Mountaineers added a run in the bottom of the seventh.
Galusky’s second home run of the day gave WVU a 9-1 lead in the bottom of the eighth.
The Mountaineers will play the winner of the Wake Forest/ UMBC game on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Cover Photo Credit: Jeff Ruff, BGS