MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — With Billy Fleming hustling down a soggy baseline to beat out a potential double play, West Virginia completed a three-run, bottom-of-the-ninth comeback that stunned Kansas State 6-5.

Moments later Fleming found himself flat-backed on the rain-soaked infield dirt, wedged beneath a dogpile of teammates after the Mountaineers clinched the weekend series.

West Virginia’s seventh win in eight games—a hot streak that followed a seven-game losing slide—left coach Randy Mazey beaming.

“We’ve lost several games like that this year, but now that we’ve got things rolling and flipped in our direction, we deserved it,” he said. “We deserved to win that for everything we’ve been through and the guys believing in themselves.”

K-State’s bullpen, so sharp throughout the day after starter Jordan Floyd lasted just 18 pitches, imploded in the ninth while trying to protect a 5-3 lead amid steady rain.

“With our hitters, the game’s never over.” — WVU pitcher John Means

Closer Jake Matthys (2-3) walked Jackson Cramer on a borderline 3-2 pitch before Cameron O’Brien doubled off the center-field wall—West Virginia’s only hit of the inning. After Matthys wild-pitched Cramer home and walked Michael Constantini, K-State turned to freshman Ethan Landon, who walked Taylor Munden to load the bases with none out.

Bobby Boyd’s sac-fly to the right-field warning track tied it at 5-5 and moved pinch-runner Justin Fox to third base. Then came Fleming, who’s first-pitch chopper was fielded by first baseman Shane Conlon. Instead of throwing home for the force out, Conlon tried to turn the double play at second, but the return throw was too late to get Fleming.

“I was just trying to put the ball in play early,” Fleming said. “I got beat a little bit by that pitch, but it did the job.”

As invigorating as the comeback was for West Virginia (23-16, 6-7 Big 12), it looked equally deflating for Kansas State (23-21, 4-10). Despite out-hitting WVU 12-7, the Big 12 preseason favorites fell deeper into danger of finishing last in the standings, which would make them the only team eliminated from the conference tournament.

“We’re kind of on a high right now and they’re not,” Mazey said. “They’re in a place where we were a couple weeks ago, trying to figure things out.”

Kansas State coach Brad Hill said the late collapse hurt worse than Friday’s 10-1 beating.

“That is the hard part about today—we didn’t do the little things to win games,” he said. “We could have knocked down a couple two-out RBIs to put the thing out of reach, and walking the leadoff batter in the ninth set ourselves up for disaster.”

It took a while for West Virginia starter John Means to figure things out. He allowed nine early hits—and 11 of K-State’s first 17 batters to reach overall—including Blair DeBord’s first homer of the season, a two-run shot that made it 5-2 in the third.

“I was hanging everything,” he said. “The curveball was down the middle almost every time, and if it wasn’t down the middle it was in the dirt.”

Over the ensuing three innings, however, Means got off the ropes to retire 12 of the next 13 batters. He stuck around for 6 2/3 innings, surrendering five runs on 12 hits.

“He wasn’t coming out—he was staying out there for his 100 pitches regardless of the score,” said Mazey. “He didn’t throw great today but he settled in and gave us a chance to win.”

Means left with runners on the corners in the seventh, having thrown 121 pitches, but Ryan Tezak (3-0) squashed the threat on a grounder to third.

“We’ve lost several games like that this year, but now that we’ve got things rolling and flipped in our direction, we deserved it. We deserved to win that for everything we’ve been through and the guys believing in themselves.” — WVU coach Randy Mazey

WVU’s Brad Johnson chopped a two-out, two-run single through the middle in the bottom of the first. The hit came against reliever Jake Fromson, who replaced Floyd after three walks.

Fromson tossed a season-high 5 1/3 innings, allowing only one run on Jacob Rice’s sac-fly in the third. When Jared Moore followed with two shutout innings, K-State’s wobbly bullpen seemed to be in command.

And then came the ninth.

“With our hitters, the game’s never over,” Means said.

Game 3 of the series is slated for noon Sunday, with West Virginia’s Ross Vance (2-0, 3.00 ERA) scheduled to face Nate Griep (3-3, 3.12 ERA).

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Comments

  • An actual athlete

    The measure of a great pitcher is when he doesn't have his best stuff. But still manages to give you six or seven innings and a chance to win the game. Great job, good win and lllleeeetttsss ggggoooooo!

  • Mister Man

    Sweep!!!! Great job Mountaineers!!!!

  • Aaron

    Bring out the booms as Ross Vance and Sean Carley completely shut down the Wildcats from Kansas State, moving to 500 in the conference.

    It's a great day to be a Mountaineer.

  • Dave

    That was an exciting game to watch and the dogpile was great. Now the team needs to get out the McBroom and go for the sweep on Sunday.

    LET'S GOOOO MOUNTAINEERS !!!!!!

  • THANKS OLLIE!

    Nuff said.

  • Mountaineer Fanatic

    Congrats on some really great games. Keep up the good work. Love Ya
    LETS GOOOOOOO

  • Mudzbrother

    Fun to watch!

    Great hire, Mr. Luck.

    How exciting is the new stadium with a club that plays like this?

    VISION!

  • David Kennedy

    This is as good as baseball can get.
    The Coaching is showing...keep them in batting practice...please.
    Loved the relay throw to third for that critical out. That defensive play might have turned that entire game around.
    Cudo's to all!

  • ViennaGuy

    Great job, guys! What a way to gut it out and take the win!

    It's funny, where are the Oliver Luck haters now?

  • Rick55

    Taking guaranteed 2 of 3 here is the first step in taking care of business in the Big 12.

    You're not going to win them all 10-1, sometimes you've just got to grind it out, like when your starting pitcher starts badly and you find yourself behind in the bottom of the 9th. We jumped on their closer, did things right, there in the 9th. From O'Brien to Tezak to Means and right down the line, everybody contributes on this team.

    You can win big or you can win small
    But winning is winning after all

  • Aaron

    What an outstanding win. Means was almost as impressive today in that he was able to recover and shut K-State down over couple of innings as Musgrave was yesterday. Keep battling and with a win tomorrow WVU, which moved up to a statistical tie for 4th place in the conference.

    • Allan Taylor

      Agreed. He looked like toast after three innings, but kept his composure and found his curveball for what turned out to be a crucial last three innings.

      • In da stickes

        Aaron and Allan, that is why we love baseball. In the immortal words of Yogi Berra: "It ain't over till it's over."