WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.–The second-seeded West Virginia University baseball team saw its season come to an end in a 12-8 loss to No. 1 Wake Forest on Sunday evening at David F. Couch Ballpark.
The Mountaineers finished the year with a 36-26 record after advancing to their 12th NCAA Tournament in program history and first since 1996.
Tonight’s game marked the 62nd of the season for WVU, the most in a single season in program history. It was a season to be proud of for the Mountaineers.
“This team will probably go down in history maybe as one of the best ever for what we accomplished this year,” WVU head coach Randy Mazey said. “I think our guys showed a lot of heart, a lot of tenacity and there are Mountaineer fans everywhere super proud of our team. We made a lot of Mountaineer baseball fans that weren’t Mountaineer baseball fans prior to this year. This is a statement about our program, where it’s going and the direction it’s headed. We’ve got us a baseball program that we can be super proud of. We have a great facility, great administration and great fan support. This is not the end. This is the beginning of a great baseball program.”
The Demon Deacons (42-18) out hit the Mountaineers 16-10.
Stuart Fairchild had two hits and six RBI for Wake Forest, including a grand slam in the fourth. Jake Mueller had four hits.
Ivan Gonzalez went 3-for-5 with three RBI. BJ Myers got the nod for WVU. The junior had thrown 77 pitches against Maryland on Friday and tried for a repeat performance against the Demon Deacons but fell short.
In the opening frame, Wake Forest jumped out to a 2-0 lead on back-to-back RBI singles from Ben Breazeale and Johnny Aiello.
But the Mountaineers answered in the bottom half. Gonzalez singled and scored on Darius Hill’s double to center field.
The Demon Deacons added another run in the second on an RBI single from Logan Harvey, scoring Bruce Steel from third. With two outs, Mueller doubled to right field, extending the lead to 4-1.
However, WVU pulled within 4-3 in the bottom half when Kyle Gray launched a two-run bomb over the left center wall.
Fairchild drilled a grand slam to left field in the fourth, giving Wake Forest an 8-3 lead and ending Myers’ outing. The Demon Deacons weren’t done there. Breazeale blasted Shane Ennis’ first pitch over the left center wall, extending the lead to 10-3.
In the bottom half, the Mountaineers came barreling back, scoring three runs on two hits. Gonzalez’s double plated Kevin Brophy. With two outs, Cole Austin doubled down the left field line, scoring Gonzalez. Back-to-back wild pitches from Donnie Sellers allowed Austin to score and pull WVU within 10-6.
Fairchild blasted a two-run bomb down the right field like to push Wake Forest’s lead back out to six in the fifth.
Trailing 12-6, Gonzalez doubled down the left field line, scoring TJ Lake and Kyle Davis but it was as close as the Mountaineers would get.
The Demon Deacons advance to the super regionals and will face the winner of the Florida/ Bethune-Cook game on Monday.
Cover Photo Credit: Dale Sparks- All Pro Photography- WVU Sports