MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Down 5-0 in the middle of the fourth inning, the WVU baseball team executed a successful comeback, defeating Villanova 7-6 in the BIG EAST series opener on Thursday evening at Hawley Field.
“Our guys really played with a lot of heart today,” coach Greg Van Zant says. “Villanova is a good ballclub and we were fortunate to win the game, but the thing I was most happy about, win or lose, is we played all nine innings.
“We didn’t get behind and just quit. Our hitters have tried to have good at bats regardless of the score, but there have been a couple of games when we got behind and our hitters gave up so to speak.”
WVU improved to 13-18 overall (2-5 BIG EAST), while Villanova dropped to 16-15 (2-5). The Wildcats scored one in the first, three in the third and one in the fourth to take the early lead, but the Mountaineers persevered and scored seven runs between the fourth and seventh innings to put WVU ahead.
Going into the bottom of the fourth down 5-0, WVU began to chip away, beginning with a run in the fourth inning to bring the score to 5-1. Sophomore first baseman Ryan McBroom
crossed home plate after walking to lead off the inning and then scored on a sacrifice fly to right field by junior third baseman Nate Antone
Two runs scored in the fifth inning to cut the deficit to 5-3 as junior shortstop Stuart Jeck
scored after hitting a leadoff single and junior center fielder Brady Wilson
scored on a McBroom sacrifice fly to center field.
Junior catcher Alan Filauro
continued his string of clutch hits with a two-run double to the right center field wall, scoring freshman designated hitter Tyler Steele-Worsham
from third and Antone from second in the sixth inning. Filauro scored to take the 6-5 lead on a Wilson single to left field.
Villanova came back to tie the game at 6-6 in the seventh when Connor Jones singled up the middle to score pinch runner Jordan Zech from second base.
McBroom scored the eventual game winner on WVU’s third sacrifice fly of the game, this time by pinch hitting freshman Pen Nakazato
to center field. McBroom hit a single through the left side and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, and then to third on a wild pitch.
Wilson went 3-for-5 to lead the Mountaineers with one run, one RBI and a stolen base. Steele-Worsham recorded two hits with one run, while McBroom scored two runs with one hit and one RBI.
Jones led Villanova with a 3-for-5 performance with one run and two RBIs, while Marlon Calbi and Steve Schrenk had two hits apiece.
Right-handed sophomore starter Corey Walter
improved to 3-3 after struggling early, but regaining his composure and pitching seven innings. Walter allowed six runs on 10 hits with three strikeouts and three walks. Sophomore righty Josh Harlow
pitched a perfect eighth, striking out one, while right-handed sophomore Ryan Tezak
earned his sixth save of the season by closing out the ninth inning. Tezak allowed one hit and struck out one.
Villanova starter Kyle Helisek took the no-decision after pitching 5.1 innings and allowed five runs on seven hits. Helisek struck out two and walked two. Matt Meurer took the loss in relief of Helisek, pitching one inning and giving up two runs on three hits. Matt Lengel pitched the final 1.2 innings of the game, not allowing a hit.
Game two on Friday is set for a 5 p.m. first pitch, and will be audio streamed through MSNsportsNET.com and WAJR 1440-AM.