MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (April 3, 2019) – A program-record 3,487 fans watched the West Virginia University baseball team score the go-ahead run in the eighth inning to beat Pitt, 5-4, in the Backyard Brawl on Wednesday night at Monongalia County Ballpark.
In front of the largest crowd to ever watch a WVU home game, the Mountaineers (17-11) regained a 5-4 lead in the eighth inning on a sacrifice fly after the Panthers (8-19) tied the game with a three-run eighth inning. WVU scored four runs in the second inning to take a 4-1 lead after UP took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second.
In the oldest and most-played rivalry in program history, West Virginia has won five in a row against Pitt and 10 of the last 13 meetings. With the win, WVU increased its lead in the all-time series to 107-88.
“We put a good roduct on the field tonight,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “Our kids are fun to watch. We run, we smash baseballs, pitchers attack the zone and it was a great competition. Pitt came out here and gave us all we could handle tonight, but we have had a tendency to score runs late in the game in our park. This is starting to turn into a pretty big home field advantage, and the record crowd had a lot to do with that tonight.”
West Virginia has won three in a row and four of its last five games. The Mountaineers improved to 9-1 this season at Monongalia County Ballpark.
After Pitt tied the game at 4-4 in the sixth, the Mountaineers rallied with a run in the bottom of the eighth on a sacrifice fly by junior first baseman Kevin Brophy. It was Brophy’s team-leading third RBI of the day, after he launched a two-run home run in WVU’s four-run second inning. The homer was his fifth of the year and 11th of his career.
Freshman right-hander Zach Ottinger earned his first career win (1-0), while junior righty Sam Kessler picked up his fifth save. Ottinger gave up just one hit in 2.0 shutout innings with four strikeouts and no walks. He escaped a jam in the seventh, with runners on the corners and one out, and pitched a perfect eighth. Kessler followed with a 1-2-3 ninth inning to seal the win.
Junior left-handed starter Nick Snyder allowed one run on one hit in 5.0 innings. He struck out five and walked three. The Mountaineers have won all six games that Snyder has started this season.
Pitt took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a two-out RBI single to shallow left field, which came after back-to-back hit batters put two on.
West Virginia answered right back with four runs in the bottom of the second to take a 4-1 lead. Senior catcher Ivan Gonzalez walked with one out and scored on Brophy’s long home run to left. With two outs, freshman shortstop Tevin Tucker walked, stole second and scored on a single to left by freshman left fielder Austin Davis. Sophomore second baseman Tyler Doanes then followed with an RBI double to right-center, which scored Davis from first.
Snyder left a runner on in the third, fourth and fifth innings, but did not allow a hit the rest of his outing.
The Panthers tied the game at 4-4 in the sixth, on a three-run home run with two outs by Bryce O’Farrell. The Mountaineers threatened in the bottom of the sixth, and stranded two with a pair of hits, but a strikeout and groundout left runners on second and third.
Ottinger took the mound in the seventh and gave up a leadoff triple, and a one-out error put runners on the corners. However, the freshman got a strikeout and lineout to end the inning.
In the eighth, WVU regained the lead on Brophy’s sacrifice fly. Senior right fielder led off the inning with a double and advanced to third on a groundout before he scored the go-ahead run.
Kessler preserved the win in the ninth, with two strikeouts and a groundout.
The Mountaineers return to the road this weekend for a matchup at No. 23 Oklahoma State, from April 5-7. The series in Stillwater, Oklahoma, begins on Friday, April 5, at 7:05 p.m. ET, in a contest broadcasted on FCS. Saturday’s matchup is set for 3:05 p.m. at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium. The series concludes on Sunday on FCS, and first pitch has been moved up one hour, to 1 p.m.
PRESS RELEASE CREDIT: WVU ATHLETICS COMMUNICATIONS
PHOTO CREDIT: SHANNA ROSE, BGS