WVU athletics/Dale Sparks/All-Pro Photography

West Virginia catcher Cameron O’Brien tags out Virginia Tech’s Sean Keselica during the fourth inning Tuesday night. WVU rallied to win 4-3.

 

PRINCETON, W.Va. — Lacking the Big 12’s leading hitter and, truth be told, some of the bounce they showed against Texas last weekend, the West Virginia Mountaineers stayed hot nonetheless.

And they did so in front of a packed ballpark, staging an eighth-inning comeback to down Virginia Tech 4-3 on Tuesday night.

Jacob Rice’s RBI single tied it before reserve Justin Fox—his role diminished the past six weeks by an injured elbow—beat out a potential double play to bring home the go-ahead run.

That was the first lead of the game for the surging Mountaineers (27-17), who won for the 11th time in 13 games, and another setback for the swooning Hokies (19-28), who have dropped 11 of 12.

Coming off a series win against Texas, coach Randy Mazey lauded his players for grinding out a midweek win that continued to bolster West Virginia’s NCAA regional hopes.

WVU athletics/Dale Sparks/All-Pro Photography

WVU first baseman Ryan McBroom fields a pickoff throw against Virginia Tech.

“They aren’t naive to the Internet and social media, so they see Virginia Tech is under .500 and their RPI’s not high, but that’s where leadership comes in,” Mazey said. “You’ve got to have guys who say this game is as important as if they were No. 1 in the country.

“We’re learning how to win in the last two innings. Even if you’re a little bit low-energy when the game starts, you find a way to win at the end.”

An overflow crowd of 2,084 jammed Hunnicutt Field, home of the minor-league Princeton Rays. It was the eighth-largest home crowd to watch a West Virginia game.

After Virginia Tech took a 3-2 lead in the top of the eighth against reliever Ryan Tezak (4-0), the Mountaineers came up clutch in the bottom half against Hokies reliever Sean Keselica (3-4).

Keselica hit Cameron O’Brien, hitting in place of usual No. 2 batter Bobby Boyd, whose .376 average was missing after the center fielder was struck on the hand by a pitch Sunday.

After Ryan McBroom followed with a one-out double off the left-field wall, Rice leveled the game by delivering his second hit of the night—a sinking liner barely beyond the reach of Tech center fielder Saige Jenco.

“There’s no panic with our team,” Rice said. “We’re good hitters and we’re hot right now, so there was no panic at all.”

After Brad Johnson was intentionally walked to load the bases, that brought up the pinch-hitter Fox, who chopped a 2-2 pitch toward third base. The Hokies got the out at the second but were a step late to double up Fox at first.

“The minute I hit it I was like, ‘Oh crap.’ It’s probably the fastest I’ve run in a while,” said Fox, who has been sidelined with a strained elbow ligament since mid-March.

Sean Carley charged on in the ninth, allowing only an infield-chop single for his third save.

“We’re at a point where every game matters,” he said. “We didn’t want to play extra innings, because we’ve got a long bus ride home.”

The ride could feel even longer for Virginia Tech, which hurt itself with a couple base-running blunders early. In the first inning, after WVU initially failed to turn a double play, Hokies leadoff man Saige Jenco tried to score from second base and was cut down at the plate handily.

In the second, after Ricky Surum singled home the game’s first run and put runners on the corners with one out, he was picked off first by WVU starter Corey Walter.

Walter escaped a first-and-third jam in the fourth when Surum’s grounder led third baseman Michael Constantini throwing out Phil Sciretta at the plate.

“In their meeting I’m sure they’re talking about getting got guys thrown out at the plate and another guy picked off in a big situation. because they could’ve had a little bigger lead early in the game,” Mazey said. “That’s why we work on all that—the pickoffs and stuff—in the indoor facility before the season starts.”

Walter survived nine hits and two walks to concede only two runs over seven innings. He threw 110 pitches.

“These midweek games are big,” Walter said. “All of these games are real important for us.”

BOYD’S STATUS
Mazey said it’s too early to determine Boyd’s availability for this weekend’s three-game series at Kansas.

“We’re going to do everything we can to get him ready for Friday, but he’ll probably be a game-time decision,” Mazey said.

“If you’re going to have a good team you’ve got to have some depth on the bench. When you miss a guy like Bobby it’s a big loss, but we’ve got guys who can step in.”

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Comments

  • Rick55

    Great sellout crowd in Princeton.
    The biggest home crowd by far ever to watch a WVU game was in Charleston.
    It's great for the fans outside of Morgantown to see this team. Despite the new stadium, I hope next year brings a few games to other parts of the state. I hope we continue to play away vs. Marshall @ APP, at least. Love that they will have a true home next year, though. They deserve it.

  • Dave

    Nice win !!! Way to battle it out. Great team and great coach.

    LET'S GOOOOOOO MOUNTAINEERS !!!!!!!!!!

  • Uncle c

    Was at game, great crowd, not very loud, need more games in south part of WV. Always love a win over VT

  • cutty77

    Another Great win by The Barnstorming WVU Baseball Team. Nice win down in Chokie Country to.

  • jay zoom

    way to go Mr. Mazey you and your crew are doing a fine job. maybe Randy can give a few pointers to Dana and one and done Huggins on how to win in the big 12. THANKS OLLIE.

    • rock solid

      @jzoom: Born a jerk, are a jerk, always will be a jerk. Please disappear, it would be the greatest contribution to mankind someone like you could make.

  • aquarius

    i was able to watch the game via steaming. talk about luck, i found the game in the 8th inning and got to watch the rally. i tip my hat to coach mazey....he's bringing wvu baseball to a level its never been and so quickly....go mounties
    go coach mazey

  • Aaron

    That is the type of game that had all the makings of a trap game, especially given that your league MVP candidate and leading hitter is out of the game. Even though it wasn't pretty, the Mountaineers gutted it out.

    I was particularly impressed with Carley in the 9th. Given the way his role has changed on this team, he came in and did what closers are supposed to do.

    Now on to Lawrence where WV can take over 3rd place with a sweep and statistical tie with Kansas with a series win.

    Thanks Mr. Chez

  • WVU FAN

    Good win,!!

    its always nice to beat the Hokies!!!

    I can see why they didn't want the Mounties in the ACC/ old Big East.... HAHAAHAHAHHA!!!!

    another Turkey for the freezer!!!!

    Let's GOOOOOOO!!! Mountaineeeeeers!!!!!

  • John

    Great game and comeback win. To beat VT in baseball, or anything for that matter, is awesome. Last 7 games will all be tough starting with KU. Getting Boyd back in the lineup will be huge.

  • richard

    took my son to the game. it was worth the drive from charleston. great crowd and the team was focused. this is a very good team. well coached.

    • Dave

      It makes it extra special when you can take your kids to the game. Good job Dad.

  • Rick55

    Boy you talk about grinding.
    Another thing I like about this team is how they takes advantage of what the opposition gives them; they've been doing it all year, and show no signs of letting up.
    Hoping Kansas may be resting on their laurels after their big sweep, and the away game may bring out the best in our underdog selves.
    Lets go Mountaineers!!!

  • will

    Fun game for the fans, Please come back to Princeton, both WVU and VA TECH the fans love it. Eighth largest crowd WOW!! Only makes since to do this again!

  • Heart Shot

    It's turkey season nicely done guys
    Lets go