West Virginia rallied for three runs in the top of the ninth to force extra innings, but Georgia State produced a run in the bottom of the 10th to take a 7-6 win in the first game of a doubleheader in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday afternoon.
West Virginia (1-1) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the second via hits big and small. Austin Davis got aboard via a bunt single, and Dominic Ragazzo blasted a triple to left center in his first at-bat of the season to bring him home. Then it was back to small ball, as Mikey Kluska’s dribbler down the third base line was allowed to roll, and when it hit the bag for a fair ball, Ragazzo was already across the plate for a 2-0 lead.
Two innings later, the Panthers (1-1) strung together three hits of their own to tie the score, starting a string of four consecutive innings in which they dented the plate. Griffin Cheney and Elian Merejo smacked back-to-back doubles to score one run, and after a strikeout, Dalton Pearson beat a relay on a potential inning-ending double play to push Merejo across with another.
GSU added a run in the fifth, two in the sixth and another in the seventh to take what looked to be a safe 6-3 lead, but West Virginia had one last gasp which it took advantage of.
In the top of the ninth, Kluska reached on a throwing error, and Victor Scott got aboard while forcing him at second. Tyler Doanes singled to score Scott, then after WVU loaded the bases, Paul McIntosh’s grounder to shortstop was bobbled, allowing two runs to score to tie the game at 6-6.
Unlike Friday’s game, though, which WVU won in extra innings, this time it was the home team that came out on top.
Brandon Marchman was hit by WVU pitcher Skylar Gonzalez to lead off the tenth, and moved to second on a sacrifice. WVU got the second out of the inning, but Merejo singled to left to score Marchman with the winning run.
Hudson Byorick and Ragazzo each had two hits for the Mountaineers, while McIntosh had two RBI.
Starting pitcher Adam Tulloch, a juco transfer from the College of Central Florida, was solid for three innings, but the Panthers got a bead on him in the fourth and fifth innings for five hits and three runs. Tulloch finished his first appearance as a Mountaineer with four innings or work in which he allowed six hits (three for extra bases) and three earned runs. He struck out five, walked one and hit another while facing 19 batters.
Mountaineer relief pitching, excellent on Friday, was hit and miss in this game. Noah Short pitched one inning of scoreless ball, and Tyler Chadwick had 1.2 innings in which he allowed one hit, but three other WVU relievers (Daniel Ouderkirk, Carlson Reed and Gonzalez) yielded a combined six hits and four runs (three earned) in three innings.