MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (May 3, 2019) – The No. 17 West Virginia University baseball team lost the opening game of the series against TCU, 14-5, on Friday night at Monongalia County Ballpark.
The Mountaineers (27-16, 10-9 Big 12) took a 3-0 lead in the first inning on a three-run home run by senior right fielder Darius Hill, but the Horned Frogs (25-19, 7-9 Big 12) rallied with runs in the fourth and fifth and two in the sixth to take a 4-3 lead. TCU added a 10-run seventh inning off of the WVU bullpen before West Virginia scored one in the seventh and another in the ninth.
The loss was WVU’s fourth in 18 home games, and the Mountaineers entered Friday’s series opener having won 13 of their last 17 games.
“Yeah, we haven’t been in this situation recently,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “That was encouraging, the last three innings. We had a pitcher (freshman right-hander Ryan Bergert) go out there and strike several of them out, which nobody was able to do prior to that. So, the good thing is we were down nine runs here (at the end of the game), and tomorrow when the game starts, it’s going to be tied. So, when we win a game like that we always say the team that loses gets momentum going into tomorrow because they just tied the score, so we just tied the score here as soon as that last out was made.”
Junior right-handed starter Alek Manoah suffered the loss and falls to 6-3 on the season. He had just his third non-quality start in 12 starts this season. In 6.0 innings, he allowed five runs, four earned, on eight hits with five strikeouts and four walks.
Freshman righty Ryan Bergert, who pitched the final 2.1 innings, struck out a career-best six batters and did not allow a run on two hits.
Hill led WVU offensively with two hits and three RBIs and hit his fourth home run of the season and 15th of his career in the first inning. Hill was one of four Mountaineers with two hits. That included senior pinch hitter Andrew Zitel, who homered in the ninth inning.
A pair of walks put two on in the top of the first with one out, but Manoah got a popup before junior left fielder TJ Lake made a fantastic diving catch to end the inning.
The Mountaineers followed with Hill’s three-run home run to take a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Sophomore second baseman Tyler Doanes led off the frame with a double to center, and junior center fielder Brandon White reached on an infield single. That set up Hill, who homered into the WVU bullpen in right field.
Manoah escaped a jam in the third, as he got a strikeout and groundout to end the inning after the Horned Frogs put runners on second and third with one out.
TCU got on the board in the fourth, thanks to a leadoff single, back-to-back groundouts and an RBI infield single. The Horned Frogs added a run in the fifth on a solo home run by Johnny Rizer to make it 3-2.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth, TCU took its first lead of the game, at 4-3, on an infield single with a throwing error. Manoah got a foul popup to end the inning.
The Horned Frogs scored 10 runs on seven hits in the seventh to extend their lead to 14-3. Rizer led off the inning with his second home run of the day, and sophomore right-hander Tristen Hudson relieved Manoah. Hudson was one of three relievers in the inning, as TCU tallied three two-RBI singles, an RBI double and a two-RBI double.
West Virginia got a run back in the seventh, on an RBI single by White. That scored Zitel, who reached on a one-out double.
Bergert, who got the last out of the seventh and pitched a scoreless eighth, struck out the side in the ninth.
Zitel led off the ninth with a home run, his second of the season and fourth of his career.
Due to inclement weather expected in the Morgantown area, Saturday’s game has been moved up to noon ET.
Press Release Credit: WVU Athletics Sports
Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS