MANHATTAN, Kan. - The No. 20 West Virginia University baseball team rallied with a four-run eighth inning to beat Kansas State, 7-4, on Sunday afternoon at Tointon Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas.
The Mountaineers (31-18, 13-11 Big 12) won their sixth Big 12 Conference series of the season, its most conference series victories since they won six Big East series in 2003. WVU also secured its 13th Big 12 win of the season, its most since it also posted a 13-11 record in 2013, its inaugural season in the league.
"What a huge game," WVU coach Randy Mazey said. "I knew it was huge, I tried not to let the players know how huge it was, but it gives us a chance, a legitimate chance, to finish in third place in the league. After starting the conference season 0-4, to come back to 13-11 and put ourselves in this position, it's been a great, great regular season."
West Virginia jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning in Sunday's Big 12 regular-season finale, but the Wildcats (25-28, 8-13 Big 12) rallied to take a 4-3 lead in the seventh. However, WVU came right back with four runs in the eighth to regain a 7-4 advantage.
WVU's seven runs came on 15 hits. Junior center fielder Brandon White led the way with three hits and two RBIs, and sophomore second baseman Tyler Doanes had three hits with one RBI. Junior first baseman Marques Inman had two hits and two RBIs, with the help of a two-run home run in the first inning, his team-high-tying ninth long ball of the season.
"We out-hit them the whole game, but didn't get any breaks," Mazey added. "We hit three balls right to the fence, that they were touching the fence when they were caught. Darius (Hill) got robbed of a double early in the game down the right-field line, so we actually deserved to win that game, but we had to earn it. That inning we scored four in late, after they punched us in the mouth, was a testament to how our guys have played the whole season."
Junior right-hander Sam Kessler pitched the final 2.0 innings and picked up the save. It was his eighth of the season, tied for second-most in a single season in program history, and 13th of his career, tied for third in the Mountaineer record books. After WVU took the lead, Kessler held K-State to one hit with a strikeout and no walks.
Freshman righty Zach Ottinger collected the win and improved to 2-0 on the season. He came in and got the final out of the seventh inning, leaving two runners on base. Junior right-handed starter Kade Strowd gave up four runs, three earned, on five hits with five strikeouts and three walks in 6.2 innings. He earned his fifth quality start of the season.
WVU was slated to travel to PNC Park in Pittsburgh for the Backyard Brawl against Pitt on Tuesday.
KANSAS STATE 8, WVU 6: The No. 20 West Virginia University baseball team lost the middle game of the three-game series at Kansas State, 8-6, on Saturday afternoon at Tointon Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas.
The Mountaineers trailed 5-1 after an inning, but rallied to cut the deficit to two twice, at 5-3 in the third and 8-6 in the sixth. However, the Wildcats responded with a run in the third and two in the fifth and then held West Virginia to one baserunner in the final three innings.
WVU's six runs came on six hits, while K-State's eight runs came on nine hits. West Virginia stranded four runners on base and Kansas State left five on. Both teams committed an error.
Sophomore left-hander Jackson Wolf suffered the loss. In 4.2 innings, he allowed eight runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and three walks. Two freshmen out of the Mountaineer bullpen followed to hold K-State to two hits in 3.1 shutout innings.
Sophomore designated hitter Paul McIntosh led the offense with two hits and two RBIs, and he and sophomore second baseman Tyler Doanes both homered. Doanes' came on the first pitch of the game and was his fifth of the season and second in as many days, while McIntosh's was his team-leading ninth home run of the year.
WVU RANKED 17TH: The Mountaineers are ranked for the fifth consecutive week and move up in all six national polls.
WVU checks in as high as No. 17 in this week's Perfect Game ranking. West Virginia is No. 19 in the Baseball America top-25, No. 20 in the NCBWA poll, No. 21 in the D1Baseball top-25 and the Coaches Poll and No. 26 in this week's Collegiate Baseball rankings. Additionally, WVU is No. 17 in the latest NCAA RPI.
West Virginia's No. 17 ranking, which it has had for three weeks this season, is its highest since 1982, when the Mountaineers finished the 1982 season No. 16 in the final Collegiate Baseball Newspaper poll. WVU is ranked for more than two weeks in a season for the first time in seventh-year coach Randy Mazey's tenure.
The Mountaineers' appearance in this week's polls is the eighth time they have been ranked since 1982, with all eight appearances, five times in 2019, twice in 2017 and once in 2018, coming under Mazey.
WVU is one of four Big 12 Conference teams ranked in at least one national poll this week.
Statistically, the West Virginia pitching staff is No. 9 nationally in hits allowed per nine innings (7.34), No. 11 in strikeouts per nine innings (10.0), No. 16 in shutouts (5), No. 23 in WHIP (1.28) and No. 25 in ERA (3.62). WVU also is second in the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.43). Additionally, the Mountaineers' 82 stolen bases are No. 32 in the country and the most in the Big 12.
Manoah ranks No. 6 nationally with 121 strikeouts, No. 13 in WHIP (0.89), No. 22 in ERA (1.89), No. 23 in hits allowed per nine innings (5.86), No. 29 in strikeouts per nine innings (12.01) and complete games (2) and No. 30 in strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.50). Manoah also leads the Big 12 with seven victories and has 11 quality starts in 14 starts.
Junior right-hander Sam Kessler has eight saves, which is second-most in the Big 12 and tied for No. 2 in a single season in program history. Junior center fielder Brandon White also is second in the league with 22 stolen bases. Senior right fielder Darius Hill, who owns the West Virginia record for games played, with 124, is third in the Big 12 with 17 doubles in 2019. Sophomore second baseman Tyler Doanes also is third in the conference in stolen bases (17), and freshman shortstop Tevin Tucker is third in sacrifice bunts (8).