MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Trailing by six runs and on the brink of suffering a doubleheader sweep against UNLV, West Virginia’s offense fueled an uprising.
Kyle Gray’s RBI single keyed a five-run eighth-inning rally and his two-out hit in the ninth gave the Mountaineers an 8-7 walkoff win in Friday’s nightcap.
Chase Illig delivered a bases-clearing double and Marques Inman hit his second homer of the day for West Virginia (12-15), which rebounded from losing the seven-inning opener 11-4.
“Our offense was going to wake up at any moment,” Mountaineers coach Randy Mazey said. “Hopefully, the eighth inning today is going to propel us into the future, because we need to catch a rhythm offensively. Getting big hits like Kyle Gray did and Chase Illig did in the eighth inning, that’s how you get momentum. Hitting is contagious.”
The comeback salvaged a rough start by Kade Strowd, who allowed nine hits over five innings and left trailing 7-1.
UNLV starter Chase Maddux, the son of Hall-of-Famer Greg Maddux, lasted six innings and yielded two runs on three hits, but his bullpen failed dramatically.
Connor Woods gave up four runs without recording an out in the eighth and Bryan Menendez (2-1) gave up Gray’s
Shane Ennis (4-2) earned the win by pitching around two walks in a scoreless ninth.
“The team did a great job all day,” said UNLV coach Stan Stolte. “We had an opportunity to sweep a good team on the road, but we couldn’t overcome a couple obvious things that didn’t go our way late in the game.”
The series finale will take place Sunday at noon with inclement weather expected in the Morgantown on Saturday.
Game 1: UNLV 11, West Virginia 4
Two errors, one on an errant throw by WVU starter Alek Manoah (1-5), led to five first-inning runs for the Rebels.
Manoah left with two runners aboard and none out in the second inning.