West Virginia was one out away from taking its second loss of a doubleheader with Ohio State on Friday. Then Austin Davis stepped up to the plate.
With a full count, Davis sent the winning run home with a single to center field, capping off a 2-run comeback as he sent Ben Abernathy home for a 7-6 win at Wagener Field.
Davis got the walk-off opportunity after pinch hitter Nathan Blasick hit a 2-run single to tie the game with two outs. Abernathy took Blasick’s place on the basepaths as Davis stepped in the batter’s box, and made his way to third base with a balk and a steal while Davis worked the count full.
“I just had to stay calm, stay in my approach when I got two strikes,” Davis said. “I knew he was throwing a lot of sliders, so I was like, ‘I guess he’s going to throw his best pitch right here,’ so I was sitting on a slider.”
All 13 runs of the contest were scored in the final three-and-a-half innings as WVU and Ohio State both got quality starts from their first pitchers. Lefty Ben Hampton tossed six scoreless innings for the Mountaineers, but allowed two earned runs in the top of the seventh before Randy Mazey went to the bullpen.
Hampton allowed six hits and struck out five batters in the start.
“Hampton was cooking,” said WVU coach Randy Mazey. “The win was blown out when he was pitching, and a couple of their hitters scared me a little bit. He could have gone longer.”
Nate Haberthier lasted 5.2 innings for the Buckeyes and gave up the first three runs of the game.
WVU third baseman JJ Wetherholt was the first to hit some runs in when he hit a 2-run home run off of Haberthier. He got a little help from Davis on the basepaths as the speedy leadoff man got in Haberthier’s head with some intrusive movement and a failed pickoff attempt.
Victor Scott added WVU’s third run on the next sequence, hitting a single then stealing second and third before Haberthier allowed him home with a wild pitch.
Ohio State tied the game up in the seventh inning when it logged four hits on three different Mountaineer arms.
WVU star reliever Jacob Watters had a rough outing, coming in for Chase Smith in the seventh inning and allowing three runs, including two in the eighth that nearly gave him the loss. Ultimately, though, TJ Brock got the loss as he took the mound for Ohio State in the seventh, but couldn’t close out the final out in the ninth.
“Give [Ohio State] credit, they got two really big hits with two strikes,” Mazey said.
Davis finished 2 for 5 on the day with a pair of singles. He was the only Mountaineer to log more than one hit.
Brent Todys had a 3 for 4 day for Ohio State, adding a pair of RBIs. Tyler Pettorini also had 2 RBIs with a 2-run double in the seventh inning.
WVU’s victory capped off a marathon day for both teams, finishing the second leg of the doubleheader with a win. That was huge for the youthful Mountaineers, especially after taking a loss to open the day.
“It’s definitely tough, there are so many ups and downs especially in a game like that,” Wetherholt, a freshman, said. “We got beat up a little bit in the first game, so it’s really easy to get down on yourself and just breeze through the second game and take a loss….We got a good meal in between the games and the guys came out, we all sat down and we’re like, ‘We’re winning this game.'”
The Mountaineers elevate to 9-5 on the season with the win with one game remaining in the homestand. Ohio State falls to 5-8 with the defeat.
The series finale is set for Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at Wagener Field at Monongalia County Ballpark. It will be shown on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.