MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Senior Jackson Cramer hit a two-run, walk-off home run to cap a four-run ninth inning as the West Virginia University baseball team beat Jacksonville, 5-3, in its home opener on Friday night at Monongalia County Ballpark.
Playing their first home game of the season, the Mountaineers (11-8) trailed 3-1 with two outs in the ninth inning before scoring four runs, the first two on an error and the final two on Cramer’s homer that cleared the ballpark’s outer wall in right field and bounced into the parking lot.
“We’ve played on the road so much that we never get the last at-bat,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “I told the guys going into today that the last at-bat means the world, and we never got to do that. I think this will give us confidence at home. If we get in that situation again, down by two in the ninth, our guys know that we can win at any time.
“It’s nice to see the Mountaineers stand there and jump up and down at home plate and throw water and throw helmets and rip jerseys and that type of thing. I couldn’t be happier for (Jackson) Cramer and KD (Kyle Davis) and the older guys that have helped these young guys get through the grind of the road.”
WVU was held hitless into the fifth inning and scored a run in the seventh before Cramer’s heroics capped a four-run ninth, all with two outs.
The first two runners in the inning reached base, the first thanks to a throwing error. After they were sacrificed to second and third, junior left fielder Kyle Davis reached on another throwing error, which allowed two runs to score and tie the game at 3-3.
Cramer then followed with his team-high-tying third home run of the season and 21st of his career.
On the mound, freshman right-hander Kade Strowd pitched 3.1 strong innings in relief, allowing no runs on three hits with two strikeouts and a walk. Strowd earned his first career win.
“It seems like were in the middle of the season, but for some of these young freshmen, they’ve never played a game here before, so this was almost like opening day,” Mazey added. “You worry about nerves with new guys playing their first home game, but when he came into the game I told him ‘Kade, if you hold them right here man, our offense is going to give us a chance to win this thing.’ He did that. He’s got a good arm. He’s calm and he doesn’t get rattled and did exactly what I told him to do. He held them right there and gave us a chance to win.”
Strowd relieved junior starter BJ Myers in the sixth with two outs and a runner on. Myers allowed three runs on seven hits with a strikeout and a walk.
For the Dolphins (11-13), starter Michael Baumann held the Mountaineers to one run on four hits in 6.2 innings. He struck out 12 and walked three.
Jacksonville got on the board with a run in the first, on a two-out, RBI single.
The Mountaineers had runners reach in the first three innings, but never sent more than four batters to the plate.
The Dolphins added to their lead with a run in the fifth and another run in the sixth to make it a 3-0 game. Back-to-back doubles scored a run in the fifth, and a sacrifice fly plated JU’s third run.
WVU’s first hit of the game came in the fifth, and the Mountaineers put two on with one out, but back-to-back strikeouts got Baumann out of the inning.
Davis led off the sixth with a double, but he was stranded on second.
West Virginia broke through in the seventh inning with one run. Freshman catcher Chase Illig singled up the middle with one out, and worked his way to third on two wild pitches. He scored on a single by freshman center fielder Brandon White.
Meanwhile, Strowd held Jacksonville off the scoreboard. He relieved Myers and got the final out of the sixth inning and a double play to end the seventh. Strowd followed with scoreless eighth and ninth innings.
The Mountaineers stranded two baserunners in the eighth before the four-run ninth inning.
The series concludes with a doubleheader on Saturday, beginning at 3 p.m. ET. Due to inclement weather expected in the Morgantown area on Sunday, the series finale will now be played following Saturday’s first game. Tickets are available for the doubleheader, on WVUGAME.com or at Monongalia County Ballpark.
Tickets for Saturday’s game will be good for both games of the doubleheader, while fans with tickets to Sunday’s game can exchange them for Saturday’s doubleheader. Additionally, fans with tickets to Sunday’s game who cannot make Saturday’s doubleheader can exchange their tickets for a future game at Monongalia County Ballpark this season. Ticket exchanges can be made in advance at the Mountaineer Ticket Office, located at the Gold Gate of the WVU Coliseum, or on gameday at the Monongalia County Ballpark ticket windows.
Both games will be streamed online at WVUsports.com, and fans can listen to the games on the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG on various affiliates throughout the state, online at WVUsports.com, on the Mountaineer Gameday App and the TuneInRadio App. Dan Zangrilli and Ernie Galusky will call the action. Links to the live streams, radio broadcast and live stats for all three games can be found on the baseball schedule page on WVUsports.com.
NOTES: WVU improved to 11-8 on the season, 1-0 at home and 3-1 in its last four games … Jackson Cramer hit his third home run of the year and 21st of his career and drove in his second game-winning run of the year … Kade Strowd earned his first career win with 3.1 innings in relief, allowing no runs on three hits with two strikeouts and a walk.
Season tickets, single game tickets, flex plan tickets and mini packs for the 2017 WVU baseball season are on sale now. Fans can purchase tickets by calling 1-800-WVU GAME, going to WVUGAME.com or visiting the Mountaineer Ticket Office in the WVU Coliseum. The 2017 schedule is available on WVUsports.com.