More late-inning magic lifts Mountaineers to series clincher at Texas

AUSTIN, Texas — Seemingly impervious to late-game pressure, No. 17 West Virginia won yet another game in its final at-bat.

Texas can’t remember what such euphoria feels like.

T.J. Lake’s squeeze bunt in the ninth capped the Mountaineers’ comeback and closer Sam Kessler survived a turbulent bottom half to seal the 9-8 victory.

“Unbelievable,” West Virginia coach Randy Mazey said. “Here we go again scoring runs in the eighth and ninth innings in one of the hardest places to come back and win. We’ve done it twice in a row now.”

Actually, West Virginia’s last five wins have seen the game-winning run scored in the ninth inning or later. 

“This team is getting a little confidence late in the game, and that comes with all the experience we’ve had in close games late,” Mazey said. “That experience is valuable, and it’s starting to show.”

Brandon White broke out of a 2-for-22 slump with two hits and three RBIs for West Virginia (26-14, 10-7), which hadn’t won five consecutive conference series since the Big East days of 2003.

The Longhorns (24-21, 5-11), losers of six consecutive games and sole occupants of the Big 12 basement, committed four errors that led to six unearned runs. 

The Mountaineers swiped five bases, including a double-steal in the eighth-inning that forced an errant throw and cut the deficit to 8-7. In the ninth, Marques Inman’s RBI double tied it before pinch-runner Austin Davis scored the go-ahead run on Lake’s bunt.

Kessler had to sweat out his seventh save when Texas put two runners in scoring position with one out. But a strikeout of Tate Shaw and a first-pitch fly-out by Duke Ellis ended it.

Zach Reid (1-0), the fourth of five West Virginia pitchers, recorded five outs on 13 pitches and hasn’t allowed a run in six straight appearances.

Texas reliever Kam Fields (1-2) was lifted in the ninth after Inman smacked a high fastball into into the left-field corner. That followed Inman’s go-ahead homer in Friday night’s series opener.

A crowd of 6,334 left Disch-Falk Field grumbling over the Longhorns’ fourth consecutive one-run loss.

Catcher Ivan Gonzalez, playing only a few miles from his high school, singled home two runs in the third inning tp put the Mountaineers up 3-0.

A 5-2 lead became a tie game in the fifth when Dillon Meadows, taking over for WVU starter Jackson Wolf, gave up homers to Masen Hibbeler and Zach Zubia.

After West Virginia retook the lead on White’s squeeze bunt in the sixth, Texas countered with a three-run seventh highlighted by Ryan Reynolds’ two-RBI double. 

Darius Hill and Phillip Dull had two hits each for the Mountaineers, whose RPI stood at 13 late Saturday

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