MORGANTOWN - In front of a lively, record-breaking crowd of 4,355, the No. 15-seeded and 13th-ranked West Virginia University baseball team opened the NCAA Morgantown Regional with a 6-2 victory over Fordham on Friday night at Monongalia County Ballpark.
In their first NCAA Championship at home since 1955, the Mountaineers (38-20) trailed 1-0 in the first inning, but rallied with three in the third and added two in the sixth and another in the seventh to down the Rams (28-32). WVU is making its 13th NCAA appearance in program history and hosting postseason play for the second time in team history.
The weekend-opening win came in front of 4,355 fans, the largest home crowd in team history. Friday night marked the third time this season West Virginia has broken its single-game attendance mark.
"Great win," WVU coach Randy Mazey said. "That's a stadium just full of energy tonight from the first pitch to the last. When you have that much energy in the stadium, you're exhausted when it's over. I'm exhausted, and I can imagine how these guys feel."
Three of Fordham's four hits came in the first inning, as the visitors took a 1-0 lead, but junior right-handed starter Nick Snyder allowed just one more hit over the next four innings to earn the win. In 5.0 innings, he allowed one run on four hits with six strikeouts and three walks as the Mountaineers improved to 12-1 in his starts. Junior right-hander Kade Strowd followed with 4.0 no-hit innings and allowed one unearned run with five strikeouts and four walks. Strowd earned his first career save with the effort.
Offensively, sophomore second baseman Tyler Doanes led the team with two hits and two RBIs, and senior catcher Ivan Gonzalez added a pair of RBIs with one hit and two walks. Four of West Virginia's six runs came with two outs.
"Just what I expected, it was a dog fight and they came out and got three hits off Snyder in the first inning and that hasn't happened all year," Mazey added. "I really didn't like the way the first two innings went, the way we were swinging it. The way they played defense, that second inning was an inning I've never seen before. If that entire inning is not on SportsCenter tonight, then somebody wasn't watching the game. That was three web gems, back-to-back-to-back."
Fordham took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI single, as the first four batters reached safely. However, Gonzalez threw out a pair of runners at second to help Snyder limit the damage.
Snyder struck out the side in the second and left one on in the top of the third with two strikeouts before the Mountaineers took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the frame.
With one out and freshman shortstop Tevin Tucker on second and Doanes on first, junior center fielder Brandon White walked. On the 3-2 pitch, the ball got away from the catcher to allow Tucker to score and Doanes to move to third. Senior right fielder Darius Hill then brought home Doanes with a sac fly. With two outs and the bases loaded, Gonzalez walked to plate White.
Snyder got into a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth, but a 4-6-3 double play ended the threat. A double play also ended the fifth, as Brandon White ran down a fly ball in shallow left-center and doubled off the Fordham runner at second.
Strowd relieved Snyder to start the sixth and got a pair of strikeouts before the Mountaineers added to their lead in the sixth with two runs to make it a 5-1 ballgame. It was a two-out, two-RBI double by Doanes that scored Gonzalez and junior third baseman Kevin Brophy.
WVU added another two-out run in the seventh, thanks to Gonzalez' double to right that scored sophomore designated hitter Paul McIntosh.
The Rams got a run back in the eighth, an unearned run on a fielder's choice with an error to make it 6-2. Fordham put two on with two outs in the ninth, but Strowd secured the win with a strikeout to end the game.
With the win, West Virginia advanced to the winner's bracket to play Duke on Saturday night at Monongalia County Ballpark. Duke beat No. 17-ranked Texas A&M in Friday's opener, 8-5. The winner of Saturday night's contests advances to Sunday's regional final. Saturday's game will be streamed on WatchESPN, while fans can listen to the games on the Mountaineer Sports Network from Learfield IMG College on various affiliates throughout the state. Fans across the country can tune into the broadcast online at WVUsports.com/Watch and on the WVU Gameday and TuneIn Radio Apps. Live stats can be found at NCAA.com. Direct links to video and radio streams and live stats are available on the baseball schedule page on WVUsports.com.
Notes: West Virginia is making its 13th NCAA Championship appearance in program history and is hosting the event for the second time in program history (1955) WVU improves to 11-24 all-time in NCAA play and 2-2 at home The Mountaineers improve to 38-20 on the season, 18-5 at home, 25-9 in non-conference play and 4-2 in the postseason The attendance of 4,355 is the largest home crowd in team history and the third time this season WVU has broken the single-game attendance mark Tonight's crowd bests the previous record of 3,494, set on April 13, 2019, against Texas Tech West Virginia is 4-1 all-time against Fordham and 1-0 at home and has won four in a row in the series WVU improved to 12-1 in Nick Snyder's starts this season, as Snyder collected his team-high-tying ninth win of the season Kade Strowd earned his first career save.