MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Despite a fierce two-out ninth-inning rally, the West Virginia University baseball team fell to Niagara 5-4 in the second game of a doubleheader on Tuesday evening at Hawley Field.
The Mountaineers out-hit the Golden Eagles, 12-11, while both teams committed one error.
“Caleb (Ross) did a pretty good job, he has gotten better every time out and gave us a chance to win,” coach Greg Van Zant says. “If you can get to seven runs you can win a lot of college baseball games. He did what he could do and kept us in the game.”
Niagara held a 5-3 lead going into bottom of the ninth when Brady Wilson came to the plate and led off with a single up the middle. Bobby Boyd then narrowly missed beating out a bunt, but was able to sacrifice Wilson to second. After a strikeout by Matt Frazer, Wilson advanced to third on a wild pitch during Ryan McBroom’s at-bat. McBroom drove in Wilson with a single past the diving outstretched glove of the Niagara second baseman. John Polonius came to the plate and also hit a ball to the second baseman, this time right over his head to put two men on base. Billy Fleming followed Polonius and hit the ball hard, however it went right to the left fielder to end the game.
McBroom led WVU offensively with a 3-for-5 performance that included two RBIs. Gabe Brown went 2-for-3 with a home run, while Matt Frazer, Max Nogay and Bobby Boyd all had doubles.
Niagara jumped out to an early lead with two runs in the second inning that were driven in by Jeff Calhoon. Calhoon singled to center field and drove in Joel Klock, who had walked, and Wynton Bernard, who had singled to center.
After registering his first career hit in an earlier at-bat, Brown smacked a two-out two-run home run to left field to tie the game at 2-2. Jon Roszel had reached base previously with a great at-bat that resulted in a full-count single to left center field.
“I knew that I had hit it well, it felt good coming off the bat,” Brown says. “It was a pitch I was looking for because he had thrown a pitch up in the zone earlier, so I knew he was going to throw something down and I ended up putting a good swing on it.”
Niagara scored one in the sixth inning on a Calhoon single up the middle, but the Mountaineers were able to tie the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh.
Boyd led off the half-inning with a double over the center fielders head and then was advanced to third on a ground out by Frazer. Boyd scored the next at-bat when McBroom singled up the middle.
Niagara added a run in the eighth and ninth innings to secure the victory and a split of the series.
In his second career start, left-hander Caleb Ross earned a loss in 7.1 innings pitched, allowing four runs on nine hits. Ross struck out four and walked three. Right-handed Ryan Tezak allowed an unearned run on two hits in 1.2 innings pitched.
Niagara was led offensively by Calhoon, who finished 3-for-3 with three RBIs. Eric Hink batted a perfect 4-for-4 and Bernard went 3-for-4 with two runs.
The Mountaineers return to action this weekend when they travel to the Nike Showcase Classic. WVU will take on Oregon State, Oklahoma, Oregon and Illinois during the three-day event.