MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–After Wednesday’s deflating 9-0 loss to Canisius, the morale of the West Virginia University baseball program was at a low point. But in the face of adversity the Mountaineers showed just what they are made of.
“As I just told those guys 24 hours ago, that was as low a point as I’ve had since I’ve been here,” head coach Randy Mazey said. “And Derek Matlock has been with me the whole time and that’s what we talked about, in the office today. That’s as low as you can feel as a baseball coach what happened to us on Wednesday and then to come out and respond like this today with all the heroes, all the heroes that we had today.
“But aside from the individual performances when we ran off the field after they hit the three-run homer to go up 4-3, our guys ran off the field with energy, with passion. They stayed together and really thought they were going to win. They really thought they were going to win after one of the most crushing, crushing pitches, home runs we’ve ever had hit against us. For our guys to run off the field and still think they can win that game says a lot about the guys in that uniform.”
WVU had a 3-1 lead with two runners on and two outs in the top of the ninth. Starting pitcher Chad Donato was working hard to get the complete game when Oklahoma State blasted a three-run homer over the fence to go up 4-3.
The Mountaineers could have hung their heads but they ran off the field prepared to get the run right back. And WVU did just that, which is different than in previous years.
“It was interesting,” Cramer said. “In years past, I don’t think we win that game. We came back off the field. We were kind of upset but as soon as we got in the dugout we said we can win this game. We just got to get one back and try and get another one across. We just kept a good attitude. We had a lot of kids up there competing. Everyone who came into the game later did their job.”
Freshman pinch hitter Marques Inman came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with freshman Jimmy Galusky and sophomore Kyle Davis on first and second. Inman hit a single to right field, and Galusky slid home safely just under the tag of the Cowboy catcher Colin Simpson to tie the game at 4-4.
That set the stage for Jackson Cramer’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th.
“I knew we were going to play well today,” Mazey said. “When you face adversity with a young team, you have to convince them that the way to get out of it is to work to get out of it, and that’s exactly what we did. I couldn’t be happier for all these guys, what an unbelievable win for our program. This stadium, and Big 12 baseball in Morgantown, playing Country Roads after you win after a big game, this has a chance to be one of the best college baseball atmospheres in the nation.”
“Losing two games that we shouldn’t have lost on our schedule, those should be automatic wins,” Donato said. “We took that tough. It’s crazy. We show up against the good teams we play good. We show up against the bad teams we play bad. You can’t do that. You got to come to the field every day ready to work. There is nothing different between Oklahoma State and Canisius obviously but we just weren’t ready to play earlier this week and today we came ready to play. I didn’t have my best stuff today but I was ready for my offense to pick me up big time.”
That showed just how the Mountaineers band together. If one player has a down day, the others pick him up. When adversity rears its ugly head they step up and keep fighting.
“I just encourage people to come out and watch this team play,” Mazey said. “They’re all, almost all of them are freshman. They’re learning as they go. They’re making mistakes, but they’re so much fun to watch play.”
The youthful WVU baseball team has a lot of room to grow but the Mountaineers keep pushing themselves to get better.
“My roommates Darius (Hill) and we are always pushing each other to do better, to go work out, go hit some more, go take some fly balls or ground balls,” Marques Inman said. “It’s really like an universal thing for all freshman. It’s a good system.”
With WVU’s attitude and work ethic, something special could be ahead for Mountaineer baseball.