CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Even an epic bullpen collapse couldn’t spoil West Virginia’s Big 12 baseball opener.

Freshman Jackson Cramer’s walkoff double in the bottom of the 12th capped a wild 8-7 victory after the Mountaineers’ relievers allowed Baylor to extend the game with a five-run ninth.

Teammates mobbed Cramer on the base paths after West Virginia (14-8, 1-0) needed four hours to win the opener of a three-game series at Appalachian Power Park. Baylor, which came in ranked No. 29 in the Collegiate Baseball poll, dipped to 13-12 overall and 4-3 in the league.

With Baylor closer and Big 12 saves leader Josh Michalic (0-2) working his fourth inning, Jacob Rice began the 12th by doubling off the left-field wall. Cramer then delivered the first extra-base hit of his young college career by driving a 1-1 pitch to the wall in center.

“We were at the bottom of the lineup and even if he bunts (Rice) over, you’re not sure if you’re going to win the game with the guys coming up,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “He’s a big strong kid, so you give him a chance to win the game with one swing.”

Cramer, who played his high school ball less than two hours from the Baylor campus, had made only two pinch-hitter appearances in West Virginia’s previous eight games.

“I know I haven’t played much lately, but it was nice to come through when I had my chance,” he said. “I got the green light to swing away. I was sitting on the slider and got my pitch.”

Cramer became the second unlikely hero on Friday, after Max Nogay’s tie-breaking grand slam in the sixth inning seemingly put West Virginia in command. The junior catcher with the .208 career average delivered the first homer allowed by Baylor’s Brad Kuntz this season.

Nogay entered Friday with two RBIs this season and had homered only twice in his previous 143 college at-bats. But he broke a 2-2 deadlock by turning around a first-pitch fastball from Kuntz after the Bears left-hander loaded the bases on a walk, a hit batter and a bloop single by Jacob Rice.

The left-hander Kuntz, who came in with a 4-0 mark and sporting a 1.64 ERA, battled wildness throughout his 6 2/3 innings. He threw only 55 strikes among 101 pitches, walked five and hit as many batters (one) as he struck out.

Kuntz allowed seven earned runs—one more than he had allowed in six previous starts combined—though he avoided his first loss thanks to Baylor’s incredible rally.

Mountaineers ace Harris Musgrave wasn’t his sharpest with four walks, yet remained 6-0 in nine career Big 12 starts. After allowing two runs over seven innings, he appeared headed for his fourth win until the bullpen let a 7-2 lead slip away in a nightmare ninth.

The combination of Corey Walter, Ross Vance and Ryan Tezak forced in runs on two bases-loaded walks and allowed another on a bases-loaded hit batter. Ben Carl’s two-run, two-out single that tied it at 7-all was only Baylor’s second hit of the inning.

“You can’t get so down that the kids in the dugout think the game is over,” Mazey said. “It was still tied.”

Michael Bennett (1-0) finally coaxed a pop-up to end the ninth and delivered another three innings of one-hit pitching for his first win.

“The biggest out of the whole game was when (Baylor) did tie it up and they still had second and third with two outs and we got a pop up to end the inning,” Mazey said.

After Ryan McBroom’s two-run single put WVU ahead in the first inning, Baylor’s Adam Toth answered with a solo homer in the second. Baylor drew even at 2-all in the third when Musgrave walked two batters ahead of Duncan Wendel’s RBI single.

Game 2 of the series is slated for a 4 p.m. start Saturday, with the final game scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

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  • Rick55

    See all the Charleston Mountaineer fans at the game today! Make sure to wear your WVU jackets! Could be a little chilly! Just make sure your gear is right and not black or silver! Go Mountaineers!!!

    • Uncle Unctuous

      Oh, ho! I get it! That's good, fresh material. Got any Nixon jokes?

  • Alex

    I like this team. You who live in the Charleston area who like baseball, hope you can get to watch them play this weekend . ... See you at the game.

  • richard

    " you can't get so down that the kids in the dugout thinks the game i over---it was still tied". that is a sign of a great coach. i would say the last coach WVU had in baseball would have showed the losing emotion and the team would have saw that. this guy knows how to coach and he knows how to handle the (head) part of the game. i'm excited over the baseball program. WVU needs to do what it takes to keep Mazey!

  • Dave

    No mention of Bennet in the article. I thought he showed up big time in the final innings for the Mountaineers. It was good to see the Mountaineers not fold after losing that 5 run lead in the ninth. Great job team and Coach Mazey. Let's get another one today.


    • Allan Taylor

      No mention? Check out the end of the story ...

      Michael Bennett (1-0) finally coaxed a pop-up to end the ninth and delivered another three innings of one-hit pitching for his first win.

      "The biggest out of the whole game was when (Baylor) did tie it up and they still had second and third with two outs and we got a pop up to end the inning," Mazey said.

  • Rick55

    The hallmarks of good teams is having players step up and have the backs of their teammates. I thought the young Oregonian Bennett really stepped up and pitched brilliantly. Not the first time this has happened; when our infielders made a couple of errors in an earlier game, one of our outfielders threw out not one but two runners at the plate. Beat Baylor Go Mountaineers!!!

  • John

    Congratulations to Jackson Cramer and WVU. Nice way to start the conference slate. Bullpen has been shaky at times. Walks killed both teams as they usually do.

  • just me

    good team great coach thanks Ollie

  • Jerry

    Should not have gone to extra innings. Up 7-2 going into ninth. Lack of concentration by pitchers. Number 11 hung in there for 7 innings with big lead. Go eers, get them Saturday!

  • Aaron

    While you hate the collapse, it's good to see the team bounce back and not give up. Great teams win them all ways.

    Keep em coming eers.