West Virginians in the Old Gold and Blue got some bragging rights for the water cooler after the Mountaineers took a win back from Marshall on the baseball diamond, 9-3 at Monongalia County Ballpark on Wednesday.
WVU got the better of the Thundering Herd in a typical midweek game in which 15 pitchers got time on the mound between the two clubs. It was also a major battle for season momentum, as both teams entered the contest with a rough show of form in the lead-up.
That wasn’t on the mind of WVU skipper Randy Mazey, however. His staff’s focus was on defeating their rival, especially at home, and doubly especially after taking a loss to Marshall earlier in the season. Instilling the importance of the rivalry into his players was crucial, and moreso for the out-of-state guys.
“We try and let them know that this is a game that has recruiting implications, and a lot more than just the final score,” he said.
Of course, the final score still holds a lot of value, especially as his team took a first-inning deficit and swung in front to win. Marshall’s Ryan Leitch put the first run on the board with an RBI single off of WVU starter Jake Carr, driving Geordon Blanton home for the score.
West Virginia woke up offensively in the second inning when Kevin Brophy sent Hudson Byorick home on an RBI ground out. Later in the inning, Austin Davis put Vince Ippoliti across the plate with an RBI single to take the lead.
That sparked a seven-run swing for West Virginia, as it went on to score in four of the next five innings, while Marshall was unable to keep up.
“We have guys that are making adjustments and getting better because of it, working hard at it. I think that the compete level is really high right now with everyone in the lineup,” Mazey said.
Tyler Doanes had one of his top offensive days of the season, bagging three RBIs as he went 2-for-5 on the day. Davis and Hudson Byorick each added a pair of RBIs as well, with Byorick scoring them on a triple, while Davis added a double.
Freshman McGwire Holbrook got the start at catcher and went a perfect 3-for-3 with a walk.
Carr (1-2) earned his first victory of the season, giving up just two hits and a run with three strikeouts in 4.0 innings of work. This was a solid outing for the sophomore, who took the rubber as a starter for the first time since March 20.
“We need somebody else to step up and give us some starts. It’s no secret…that starting pitching is the key to this thing, so we’re just trying to find pieces, man, and he’s got a history here of being able to start,” Mazey said. “So he’s gonna have to have a shot at this thing so it was really good to see him go out there and throw some zeroes and get some pitches back, he looked a little like the Jake Carr of old after the first inning.”
WVU trotted out six relievers to finish out the next five innings, getting out of the contest with minimal damage. Zach Ottinger gave up the only offense of the latter innings, allowing two runs and a hit.
Ryan Capuano (1-1) took the loss in 1.1 innings on the rubber after giving up a pair of hits and earned runs with two walks. Marshall then called on seven relievers to finish out the game, but they were unable to hold the Mountaineers as they gave up nine more hits and seven more runs.
Marshall falls to 4-20 with the loss before resuming C-USA play this weekend against FIU, hunting for its first conference win. The Mountaineers improve to 13-14 overall on the season and await a meeting with No. 7 Texas Tech in Morgantown.
First pitch between WVU and Texas Tech is set for Friday at 6:30 p.m. on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.