Inman Sits On Fastball, Turns On It For Clinching Home Run
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Clinging to a one-run lead in the bottom of the eight inning, the West Virginia baseball team wasn’t in dire straits, but it was more than a bit nervous. After sprinting out to a 6-1 lead after one inning against Oklahoma State, the Mountaineers saw the visitors claw back into position for one more rally. Only one out stood between the Pokes and a last at-bat that might have produced a devastating loss for the home team, but WVU first baseman Marques Inman was having none of it.
With a runner on third, conventional wisdom dictates that the batter just try to make contact and put the ball in play. Anything — a seeing-eye grounder, a blooper, a wild pitch — would bring home an insurance run. Instead, Inman went for the jugular.
“In that situation I was thinking home run,” said the 6-1, 215-pound redshirt sophomore. “We needed that. We needed something to keep us going. I did feel the momentum slipping away from us, but I think that settled us down a little bit.”
The only thing that settled down, though, was the ball — some 400 feet beyond the leftfield fence. The blast gave the Mountaineers a 10-7 lead, and caused an eruption from the dugout that just moments before was gnawing on its collective fingernails.
“[I was sitting] on a fastball. I got the pitch I wanted and put a good swing on it,” said Inman, who blasted the offering from OSU reliever Reza Aleaziz deep into the evening. “That helped AK (WVU relief pitcher Alek Manoah) a little bit.”
Again, understatement. Manoah, who struggled through a rocky eighth inning in giving up two runs, pitched a confident ninth. It was as if the clouds that had begun to creep in to the sky as OSU mounted its rally were suddenly swept away, leaving the Mountaineers with more confidence as it attempts to claw its way up the Big 12 Conference standings. There is still much to achieve there, but WVU is now out of the cellar, and with a chance for a series win on Sunday over a squad that stands 8-3 in the league, optimism is back on the menu.
“We just need wins right now. We need conference wins,” Inman said.
In pursuit of that goal, the Elyria, Ohio native is being counted on to more heavily than ever to be a run producer in the middle of the order. Fellow first baseman and DH Kevin Brophy hasn’t played since the Oklahoma series, and unconfirmed reports indicate that he might be out for a long stretch. That puts the onus on Inman to continue to produce as he did against OSU on Saturday. His two hits produced four RBI, and he also chugged around to score on a first inning single with an acrobatic dive to the plate.
“Not really,” was his answer to a question of feeling a bit of pressure to produce with Brophy out. “Darius (Hill) is in front of me, Chase (Illig) is behind me, so it’s not like there’s no power in the lineup. “We know we have to produce. So I guess you could say there is a little bit of a microscope on us. We are definitely starting to get going.”