MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — No. 9 Morgantown built a nine-run lead and held on for a 12-10 win Wednesday over No. 3 University in the winners’ bracket of Class AAA Region 1, Section 2 baseball postseason action.
The victory gives Morgantown (18-8) the upper-hand in the section, forcing University to the losers bracket where it will face an elimination game Thursday against Buckhannon-Upshur.
“This was obviously a key game to win,” said Morgantown coach Mark McCarty. “It doesn’t mean anyone has won it yet, but obviously we would rather be on this end than the other end — and we almost were.”
Morgantown built a 12-3 lead after the top-half of the sixth before University rallied with seven runs in the bottom of the inning, tightening its deficit to just two runs heading into the final stanza.
“I know when we play University, the way they’ve been scoring runs this year and last year, that there isn’t a safe lead against them,” McCarty said. “I really wanted to 10-run them and get out of there because they can really hit the baseball. I would be surprised if there’s a better hitting team in the state than them.”
Caleb Taylor got the start for Morgantown on the mound, going four and one-third innings, giving up three runs (two earned) and striking out six.
Colton Matthews threw one and one-third innings of relief, while sophomore Carter Patrick closed the door on the Hawks late, finishing the final one and one-third innings of scoreless baseball, striking out three.
Matthews led the Mohigans at the plate, going 3 for 3 with three RBIs and three runs scored, including a two-run home run in the top of the four-run sixth for Morgantown — ultimately a shot that proved to be critical for the Mohigans.
“It was a fastball and felt good off the bat – it felt more like a line drive initially, but was able to get it over the fence,” Matthews said of the home run. “We did a good job of hitting early and were able to jump on (University), but then they gradually started to come back. We were able to close it out in the end.”
The win was Morgantown’s sixth in a row and seventh out of eight overall.
“We’re playing pretty well right now,” Matthews said. “We were in a slump a couple of weeks ago, but we’re playing pretty good baseball right now.”
Taylor, Quintin Smith, Charlie Kerzak and Devon Neal all finished with two hits apiece in the win, while Gavin Cottle collected three RBIs and Andrew Kerzak added a home run as well.
Kaden Metheny went 3 for 5 with two RBIs and a run scored for University (17-9), while Trevor Barnhart and Chandler Watts added a pair of hits apiece. Cam Stoldt and Casey Smith combined for the effort on the mound for UHS.
“We battled back after digging ourselves a huge hole at the beginning of the game,” said University coach Buck Riggleman. “It obviously makes the road a little bit tougher, but with that fight we had, it means that we can battle back through adversity.
“Our mental approach at the plate in the early innings wasn’t what we’ve had all season long,” he continued. “We took too many strikes and weren’t aggressive.”