Snyder’s Gem Leads WVU Past Marshall
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–One strike, one lousy strike.
That’s all that separated Mountaineer pitcher Nick Snyder from a no-hitter Tuesday night against Marshall at the Monongalia County Ballpark.
But after mowing through 26 Thundering Herd batters, giving up no hits and one walk while striking out 16, Snyder’s bid for a no-no went awry at the last possible moment.
He got two quick outs in the ninth, and then worked Marshall’s leadoff hitter Erik Rodriguez to an 0-2 count, when the speedy Herd centerfielder chopped a high-hopper over the mound. WVU second baseman Tyler Doanes made a sliding stop behind the bag, and twisted and fired in an attempt to get the out. But Rodriguez was well past the first base sack when the throw arrived, and MU had its first hit of the game.
“I just thought, ‘Dang it,’” admitted Snyder of that ninth-inning, two-out hit. “Doansey made a good play on it, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
Snyder didn’t let the first hit get to him, though. He induced the next Marshall batter, DH Zach Inskeep, into a flyball into right, which West Virginia’s Darius Hill hauled in to secure the Mountaineers’ 2-0 victory.
“I didn’t really feel too great in my pregame bullpen, but as the innings kept creeping along, my confidence just kept growing,” explained Snyder. “I had some big misses in the first and second innings, but by the third inning I started to feel pretty good, and from that point on, I felt in control of the game.”
Ivan Gonzalez, WVU’s senior catcher, concurred.
“By the second or third inning, you usually know if a pitcher is on,” stated the veteran backstop from Round Rock, Texas. “By the third inning, Nick was really hitting his spots. Everything (WVU coach Randy) Mazey called was working. Nick was really locked in.”
The numbers for the Mountaineer junior lefthander, who improved to 6-1 on the season, were incredible. His 16 strikeouts tied him for seventh in WVU baseball history, and no Mountaineer had even reached the 16-K mark since Wes Shaw against Fairmont State in 1989. West Virginia’s current ace Alek Manoah has struck out 15 in two different games this season, but even he hasn’t achieved what Snyder did on Tuesday night.
“You have Manoah, who’s struck out 15 a couple times, but it’s arguable (Nick) who had a better night,” said Mazey, whose club improved to 27-15 on the season and is ranked No. 17 in the nation. “Manoah’s been so good, but if Snyder can do that every time out, this team could do some things.”
A native of Marlton, New Jersey, Snyder’s flirtation with the no-hitter would have given him the first such performance by a Mountaineer since 2007. As it was, he had to settle for the first complete game one-hitter by a WVU pitcher since Zac Cline twirled such a masterpiece while defeating Virginia Tech 10-0 in the 2003 Big East Tournament.
“What a great performance, but what a shame at the same time,” said Mazey of the near no-hitter. “He felt what was happening; you could tell that. In about the seventh inning, he realized what was going on. He just took it upon himself to come out with his best stuff.
“That was ridiculous stuff,” added WVU’s seventh-year head coach. “He was throwing 92 and 93 miles an hour. He’s 6-foot-7. The hitters can’t see it, and they feel like he’s letting it go right on top of home plate.”
Those in West Virginia’s dugout followed baseball’s age-old superstition of not mentioning the no-hitter while it was ongoing.
But Snyder was aware of what was happening.
“It was super exciting,” he said. “I had butterflies, so I just had to remind myself to stay in the present, and keep getting better.”
West Virginia didn’t get a lot of offense, but it didn’t need a lot either, not with the way Snyder was pitching.
The Mountaineers used seven hits and five walks to produce their two runs. But that was better than Marshall (23-21), which sent just two batters above the minimum to the plate.
WVU struck for its first run in the bottom of the third. With two outs in the inning, Brandon White doubled, and then scored when Darius Hill cracked a sharp single up the middle.
West Virginia picked up another run in the bottom of the fifth in similar fashion. After Marshall pitcher Ryan Capuano got two outs, Hill doubled to the right-center gap. Marquis Inman followed with a walk, and then Gonzalez drove home Hill with a single down the left field line, giving Snyder more than enough cushion.
“We need to hit, too,” said Mazey of WVU’s inconsistent offense, which has produced an average of just 3.2 runs per game in its last 10 outings, though West Virginia is 7-3 in that stretch. “These 2-0 games and 3-2 games and walk-offs, those are fun for you guys to watch, but it elevates my heart rate like you wouldn’t believe. It would be nice to have a 10-2 win sometime.”
SEAMS AND BARRELS
The Mountaineers have won seven in a row against Marshall and nine of the last 10 meetings … Since 1993, West Virginia has won 18 of the last 21 in the in-state series and is 48-24 all-time against the Herd.
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Snyder’s one-hitter was the first by a Mountaineer since Zac Cline held Virginia Tech to one hit on May 23, 2003 … It is the 10th nine-inning one-hitter in program history. Snyder’s 16 strikeouts are the most by a WVU hurler since Wes Shaw had 16 on April 8, 1989, against Fairmont State.
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The 16 strikeouts are tied for eighth-most in program history, and is one of seven 16-strikeout performances in WVU history.
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West Virginia is 8-0 in Snyder’s starts, while Snyder improved to 6-1 on the season with a team-high-tying six wins.