WVU Outlasts Marshall In 13 Inning Marathon

WVU Outlasts Marshall In 13 Inning Marathon

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — On a chilly, damp evening, West Virginia and Marshall piled up runs in a sloppy, back and forth affair that saw pitching and defensive efforts of both teams through the first seven innings match the dismal weather. The squads combined to allow 20 walks and three hit batters while committing eight errors in the field, but in the end it was West Virginia taking an 11-10 decision in 13 innings at Appalachian Power Park in a game that took five hours and 15 minutes to complete.

WVU went on top for the final time in the drawn out affair as Darius Hill set the table with a walk to lead off the 13th, then came around to score on singles by Marques Inman and Kyle Gray, who picked up the game-winning RBI. That was the last run in the a game that saw seven lead changes, and featured run in six of the first eight innings.

“I’d stay out here all dang night if I have to to win a game, and I thought we were going to have to for a while,” Mountaineer head coach Randy Mazey said. “That’s one of the ugliest games you’ll ever see two teams play. I think there were 21 walks between the two teams, eight errors, multiple hit by pitches. It’s not a great game, but it’s really hard to win an extra-inning game on the road.”

The fireworks began immediately in the top of the first when WVU tested Marshall’s defense with four bunts from its first five hitters. The Herd committed errors on two of those, and the Mountaineers scored two runs on Marques Inman’s sacrifice fly and Gray’s sacrifice bunt. Marshall responded immediately against West Virginia starter Isaiah Kearns, who struggled throughout his 2.1 innings on the mound. Herd catcher Rey Pastrana made Kearns pay for a leadoff walk and a hit batter by bringing both home with a three-run shot to deep centerfield to put the Herd in front at 3-2.

West Virginia outfielder Braden Zarbnisky lays down the first of four consecutive WVU bunts

The Mountaineers bounced back in the top of the third. After a innocuous start to the at-bat with a pair of outs, Inman walked and Gray restored the WVU lead with a home run over the right field wall. Ivan Gonzalez got a swinging bunt single and came around to score on Tyler Doanes’ double to left center, who in turn scored on Jimmy Galusky’s double to left that barely missed clearing the fence entirely.

“I had a fastball up and in and honestly I got jammed a little bit,” Gray confessed of the pitch he still managed to muscle out on a night that wasn’t conducive to carrying the ball. “It ended up going out, thankfully.”

Leading 6-3, West Virginia had the chance to take command, but the pitching and defense faltered. Marshall loaded the bases against Kearns with one out in the bottom of the third, and reliever Jackson Wolf gave up a two-RBI single that drew the Herd within one. One inning later, Wolf walked the leadoff hitter and was replaced by Sam Kessler. The sophomore righthander got two consecutive ground balls, but only one out resulted, as a throwing error prolonged the inning. Marshall capitalized with a pair of singles to reclaim the lead at 7-6.

In the top of the fifth, West Virginia’s miscues moved from defense to offense. Tyler Doanes lead off with a double, but unwisely tried to stretch it into a triple and was cut down easily on a throw from centerfielder Andrew Zban. That proved vital when Conner Hamilton walked and Galusky singled, which should have scored a run. Braden Zarbnisky followed with another single that got one run home, but with runners on second and third WVU attempted a squeeze with Brandon White at the plate. White missed the bunt attempt and Zarbnisky was dead to rights, taking another potential Mountaineer run off the board. The single WVU tally did tie the score at 7-all, but the potential for a much more productive frame was lost.

In the seventh, West Virginia rallied, and again did damage with two out. Chase Illig singled, advanced to second on a wild pickoff throw, then scored on Galusky’s hit. One pitch later, Zarbnisky doubled to advance the lead to 9-7 — the sixth run WVU plated with two outs on the board.  Again as regularly as the showers that popped up throughout the game, Marshall came back after the stretch, scoring three runs with the assistance of two West Virginia errors and a walk to reclaim the advantage at 10-9.

In the top of the eighth, WVU’s Darius Hill scorched a line drive over the right field wall to tie the game at 10-10.

After all that action, things calmed as the game went to extra innings. Neither team scored in the ninth, tenth or eleventh as WVU relievers Cody Wood and Alek Manoah combined to hold the Herd scoreless, while Marshall pitchers Hunter Sexton and Matt Reed returned the favor. The Mountaineer duo combined for nine strikeouts in their six combined innings. Manoah earned the win, while BJ Myers was credited with a save.

After WVU took the final lead, Marshall advance a runner to third with two outs, but Myers, throwing on what is normally his bullpen day, induced a pop-up to end the game.

Galusky led the WVU attack with three hits, while Zarbnisky, Gonazalez, Gray, Doanes and Hill each had two. Gray had four RBIs, and Conner Hamilton worked three walks on his plate appearances at designated hitter. WVU left 17 runners on base.

The teams combined to use 15 pitchers, with none lasting longer than 3.0 innings. West Virginia worked through eight arms, with Alek Manoah and Cody Wood (3.0 innings each) and Shane Ennis (1.1 innings) keeping Marshall off the scoreboard.

West Virginia returns to Big 12 play when it hosts 19th-ranked Texas at home for a three-game set beginning Friday at Monongalia County Ballpark. The Longhorns are in second place in the league with an 11-4 record and stand 28-15 overall after winning six of their last eight games. Included in that stretch were  2-1 series wins over Oklahoma and New Orleans.

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