BECKLEY, W.Va. — West Virginia let a two-run seventh-inning lead slip away and fell 6-5 to Marshall on a night when Mountaineers coach Randy Mazey rested several regulars.
Tuesday’s loss in front of 2,103 fans at Linda K. Epling Stadium was the third in a row for WVU (30-23), which dropped two of three in the season series to the Thundering Herd (20-31).
The game came at an inconvenient time for the Mountaineers, who were scheduled to fly out of Pittsburgh at 7 a.m. Wednesday morning en route to Stillwater, Okla., where on Thursday they’ll begin a three-game series against Oklahoma State to wrap up the Big 12 regular season.
Mazey opted to rest catcher Alan Filauro and leadoff-hitting shortstop Taylor Munden, while the Mountaineers’ starting outfield of Jacob Rice, Bobby Boyd and Brady Wilson all remained in Morgantown.
Even shorthanded, WVU led 5-3 in the seventh after right fielder Chris Rasky, starting in place of Wilson, doubled home Ryan McBroom with an insurance run.
But Josh Harlow (4-2), working his second inning in relief of Brock Dykxhoorn, couldn’t close down Marshall in the bottom half.
After Andrew Dundon’s leadoff double to center, Grey Stafford walked and Isaac Ballou singled to load the bases. Nathan Gomez lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to make it 5-4. Harlow struck out Eric Escobedo looking for the second out, but Alfredo Brito doubled into the right-field gap for the tying and go-ahead runs.
Ballou led all batters with three hits, three runs and two doubles, while Gomez, Escobedo and Brito each recorded two hits and two RBIs.
West Virginia was led by sophomore second baseman Billy Fleming and Chris Rasky with two hits apiece.
A two-out RBI single by Matt Frazer put West Virginia ahead 1-0 in the first before and Marshall’s Nathan Gomez countered with a two-out RBI of his own in the last of the first.
Junior center fielder Kevin Cohen was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded hit by Alex Thackston’s pitch to put WVU ahead 2-1 in the top of the second, followed by Fleming’s double off the left-field wall by Fleming, extending the Mountaineers’ lead to 4-1.
That was the end for Thackston, who failed to record an out in the second, but Chase Boster delivered five-innings of shutout middle relief to keep Marshall within distance.
Ballou scored another run in the third inning, while Escobedo singled home Gomez in the fifth inning, cutting the WVU lead to 4-3.
Dykxhoorn made his first start in two weeks and allowed three runs on seven hits in five innings for the Mountaineers.
Marshall’s Ryan Hopkins (4-2) earned the victory for Marshall after getting the final out in the top of the seventh. Matt Hummel pitched a hitless eighth for the Herd before Josh King picked up his sixth save with a perfect ninth.
The Mountaineers, who sit two games back of Kansas State in the Big 12 standings, will face Oklahoma State at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and the same time again Friday, a matchup that will be televised by Fox College Sports. Saturday’s regular-season finale begins at 4 p.m.
All three games can be heard on the affiliates of the Mountaineer Sports Network with Morgantown’sWAJR 1440 AM serving as the flagship station.