MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The No. 25-ranked West Virginia University baseball team opened play at the 2022 Cambria College Classic with a 5-4 win over Minnesota on Friday night at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Mountaineers (7-2) used a come-from-behind effort to earn the win at the home of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. WVU scored two runs in the fifth, two in the seventh and one in the ninth, while collecting 12 total hits along the way.
Senior left-handed pitcher Beau Lowery earned the win on the mound, his second of the year, while Minnesota’s Will Semb took the loss. Junior right-hander Jacob Watters pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning, recording his first save of the season.
“We used all of our best relievers to win the game and went deep into the bench like we always do,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “This is just the kind of team we have.”
After the Mountaineers stranded runners on second and third to begin the game, Minnesota took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a solo home run. From there, WVU got a pair of runners in scoring position again in the third but still couldn’t capitalize.
The Gophers (3-8) added a run in the bottom of the fourth to make it 2-0. However, sophomore right-hander Carlson Reed, who started Friday’s game for the Mountaineers, was able to limit the damage, tallying an inning-ending strikeout with runners at second and third.
Reed worked 4.1 innings, allowing two runs on six hits with three strikeouts in a no decision.
The Mountaineers tied it at 2 in the fifth with a two-run homer by sophomore catcher McGwire Holbrook. The Orlando, Florida, native belted his first long ball of the year to dead center, one of his three hits on the night.
In the bottom half of the inning, redshirt junior right-hander Noah Short came on in relief and got out of a bases-loaded jam unharmed to keep the game even. The hosts regained the lead in the sixth, though, scoring two runs to make it 4-2.
But West Virginia answered right back in the top of seventh, tying the game at 4. First, junior outfielder Victor Scott II singled to center, scoring senior outfielder Austin Davis. Moments later, sophomore infielder Nathan Blasick entered as a pinch hitter and came through for his squad. The Halifax, Pennsylvania, native ripped an RBI single to right to once again level the score line.
Fifth-year senior righty Trey Braithwaite allowed just one hit with two strikeouts in 2.0 innings, before Lowery came on to get the final out of the eighth to keep the game tied.
Then, WVU took a 5-4 lead in the top of the ninth, thanks to a pinch-hit, RBI single by junior outfielder/right-handed pitcher Kevin Dowdell. That led to Watters slamming the door in the bottom half to secure the victory.
“I always think our offense can give us a chance to get back into any game,” Mazey said. “This team is unique in that it doesn’t matter who plays, everybody is as good as everybody else. It’s just trying to get the right pieces in the right spots.”
Along with Holbrook, freshman infielder JJ Wetherholt finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored. The Mountaineers also stole eight bases in the win and used 22 different players.
Next up, WVU returns to action with a Saturday afternoonmatchup against Illinois on Day 2 of the Cambria College Classic. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. ET.