ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – In a back and forth game, the West Virginia baseball team prevailed to defeat Iowa 4-3 on Sunday morning at the Walter Fuller Complex in St. Petersburg, Fla.
WVU finished with four runs on seven hits with one error, while Iowa scored three runs on eight hits with one error.
The Mountaineers were led at the plate by Matt Frazer, who went 2-for-3 with one run, while Ryan McBroom was 1-for-4 with two RBIs.
For the third-consecutive game, the WVU hitters scored in the first inning. After a check-swing single to the catcher that Frazer beat out, McBroom laced a double into the left-center field gap to easily score Frazer from first and put WVU up 1-0.
Iowa was able to knot the score at 1-1 in the fourth inning when Dan Sheppard scored from third on a single by Bryan Niedbalski that deflected off WVU starting pitcher Eric Hinkle to the shortstop position. Hinkle was then able to force Andrew Host to hit a ground ball to Nate Antone at third base, who touched the bag and threw to first for the inning-ending double play.
Hinkle was pitching his first game since the 2010 season after recovering from Tommy John surgery last season. The left-hander pitched an effective 4.2 innings, allowing one run on five hits with three strikeouts.
Pen Nakazato came on in relief for Hinkle for his first career appearance and pitched a brilliant two innings. Nakazato allowed one hit and struck out three.
WVU broke the tie in the fifth with a bases loaded ground out to the shortstop by McBroom that scored Brady Wilson. Wilson reached base after a full-count walk and then stole second during John Polonius’ at-bat. Polonius was eventually hit by a pitch, leading to a double steal by Wilson and Polonius to move up to third and second, respectively. Frazer then walked and after an Iowa pitching change, McBroom hit his RBI ground out.
With WVU reliever Ryan Tezak in his second inning of work, Iowa tied the game in the eighth inning at 2-2. A popup to second base by Iowa’s Sean Flanagan scored Taylor Zeutenhorst from third, bringing the game to a deadlock.
The Mountaineers fought back in the bottom half of the inning starting with L.K. Thompson reaching base on a one-out error at second base. Bobby Boyd entered the game to pinch run for Thompson and immediately stole second successfully. Boyd was driven in by a double down the right field line by Chris Rasky to give WVU a 3-2 lead.
Rasky then advanced to third on a Max Nogay single through the left side and scored on sacrifice bunt by punch hitter Stuart Jeck.
Iowa continued to rally in the ninth inning when Chett Zeise smacked a double down the left field line to advance Eric Toole, who reached on a fielder’s choice, to third base. Mike McQuillan came to the plate and hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Eric Toole, bringing the score to 4-3. Tezak was able to force Zeutenhorst to ground out to first base to end the rally and the game.
The win was the first of the season for Tezak, as he pitched 2.1 innings of relief, allowing two hits and two runs. He also struck out two.
Iowa starter Sasha Kuebel allowed two runs on four hits for a no-decision in 4.1 innings pitched. Patrick Lala and Taylor Kaufman then combined for 2.2 innings of one-hit relief, while Fangman took the loss after allowing two runs in one inning.
Zeise and Sheppard each went 2-for-4 for the Hawkeyes, while McQuillan, Ewing and Niedbalski all had an RBI apiece.
WVU will now face Michigan this afternoon to close out the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge. Next weekend the Mountaineers will travel to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for the Caravelle Resort’s Baseball at the Beach Tournament from Feb. 24-26.