GRANVILLE, W.Va. — In the end, Brandon White was less concerned with how the aftermath of his headfirst dive into the center field wall looked and more disappointed that he didn’t make the catch.
“Yeah, I should have caught that ball,” White said of the first-inning play Saturday during West Virginia’s 4-0 loss against Duke in the NCAA tournament at Monongalia County Ballpark.
It was a deep fly ball off the bat of Duke catcher Michael Rothenberg that ended as an RBI triple that put White into motion.
The ball slightly tailed away from West Virginia’s speedy outfielder who made one spectacular grab after another in last week’s Big 12 tournament, but this one play was not meant for White’s highlight reel.
Instead it was a moment that filled both ends of the spectrum. First, shock and heartbreak, as White laid motionless on his back for a good five minutes after crashing into the wall after diving for the ball.
“It was an unfortunate way he hit the wall,” said West Virginia right fielder Darius Hill, who ran over and threw the ball back to the infield. “I think he’s fine now. He’s a tough guy, but I can tell he was hurting as soon as he hit the wall. Obviously he was down for a couple of minutes. I think he’s ready to go.”
As thoughts of White’s health spread throughout the stadium, his parents, Curtis and DeLaine White, entered the field and began to walk toward their son, as a cart was also brought out to transport White off the field.
“Something told me in my head that I was good to go,” White said.
That’s when the somber mood changed. First, trainers and school officials were able to get White to sit up. Minutes later, White was on his feet.
“I was good,” White said.
With his neck and left shoulder in obvious pain — “His first words were, ‘Oh, that hurt,” Hill said. — White asked for a baseball so he could make a few tosses to test out his body.
“I didn’t have to argue so much,” to stay in the game, said White, who received massage treatments from WVU trainers while the Mountaineers were batting. “They know how tough I am. They know I was ready to go.”
White received a standing ovation when he came to bat in the third inning, but like the rest of his teammates, he struggled at the plate, going 0-for-4.
“We’ll just have to get back at it [Sunday],” he said. “I feel fine right now. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.”