It took a lot of strikeouts and a little luck, but West Virginia pulled out an extra-inning victory 4-3 to open its road series against Kansas State with a win on Friday night.
With both team’s aces on the mound, this was largely a defensive battle. Both offenses took a while to get off the ground as they faced pitchers that combined for 32 strikeouts.
Matt McCormick made the first momentum swing in the fifth inning, sending Vince Ippoliti across the plate with a single to left field. That was the first of three scores for the Mountaineers, as Kevin Brophy and Mikey Kluska added RBIs as well, breaking a scoreless four innings from both clubs.
N Goodwin was the first to cut into the deficit for Kansas State with an RBI single, kicking off a three-run rally for the Wildcats. Chris Ceballos followed up an inning later with a solo home run, taking advantage of fatiguing WVU starter Jackson Wolf.
Wolf got out of the inning and went on to start the bottom of the ninth, but was pulled after walking leadoff hitter Zach Kokoska. Jacob Watters took over and was unable to hold onto the lead, as Cameron Uselton sent Kokoska home to tie it up and send it to extras.
McCormick ultimately crossed the plate as the game-winning run in the eleventh off an error, earning Watters (3-0) and the Mountaineers the win.
Wolf finished the contest with another quality start, tossing 8.0 innings and allowing three earned runs on six hits with 10 strikeouts. Watters added three hitless innings and struck out six.
Jordan Wicks took the mound for Kansas State for 6.2 innings and gave up three earned runs on five hits. The loss, however, would go to Tyler Eckberg (3-4), who stepped in for Kansas State’s last four outs.
The series continues on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET, when WVU’s Jake Carr (1-2, 10.96 ERA) squares off against Kansas State’s Connor McCullough (2-2, 4.56 ERA).