Overcoming Mistakes

It's not often a team can overcome six errors, six walks, two hit batters and two wild pitches to win a game, but somehow West Virginia did just that in a wet, sloppy, 7-6 win over Youngstown State on Wednesday.

WVU packed a month's worth of mistakes into one game against the Penguins, but still managed to get the win on a field that was slick due to thunderstorms that passed through in the afternoon. Rain continued through much of the game, making it difficult to grip and field the ball cleanly. The Mountaineers assisted on every YSU run with either errors or walks, and as a result only two of the Penguins' six runs were earned.

Scoring in the back-and-forth game that featured seven lead changes began right off the bat when the Mountaineers (24-18) manufactured a run in the top of the first. Brady Wilson walked, stole second and third, then came home on a Ryan McBroom sacrifice fly to give WVU the early lead. Youngstown State countered with its own tally, with West Virginia errors figuring for the first of several times on the evening. Mike Accardi got aboard on a throwing error, moved to second on an errant pickoff attempt, then scored on a groundout, giving them a run without benefit of a hit. The gift parade continued in the fourth, when the Penguins scored with the help of a dropped fly ball that put a runner on second base.

YSU's tally in the fourth started a string of seven consecutive at-bats with scores for both teams. The Penguins (13-30) assisted WVU's two run fifth with a walk, an error, a hit batter and a wild pitch, but the Mountaineers again proved to be generous, allowing Accardi to reach again on an error and pushing him into scoring position with a walk before he came home on a hit.

WVU got another run in the sixth, but ran itself out of a potential big inning when Fleming struck out on a bunt attempt and Jacob Rice was caught trying to steal third. As if that wasn't enough, the Mountaineers then walked YSU leadoff hitter Nick Dinello, allowed Kevin Hix aboard on an error, then threw the ball into left field after a grounder to first base, which allowed two runs to score. The inning's miscues ran West Virginia's error totals to a half-dozen, and surely had head coach Randy Mazey's temperature rising on the damp night.

WVU put up runs in its third consecutive at-bat in the top of the seventh on the strength of three consecutive singles and a balk by YSU pitcher Alex Frey. The two runs gave the Mountaineers a momentary 6-5 lead, but again the bane of walks stung them. In the bottom of the frame, Dinello finagled a two out walk, then stole second and scored on Hix's RBI double to reknot the score at 6-all.

The scoring parade finally ended with a scoreless eighth inning, but WVU struck the final blow in the top of the ninth. Brady Wilson singled, stole second and came home on Jacob Rice's clutch hit to give West Virginia the lead at 7-6. Pascal Paul then held YSU in check (although not before putting the tying run aboard by hitting Nix with a pitch) to earn the win for himself and the Mountaineers.

WVU overcame its miscue-filled performance with 12 hits at the plate. Wilson and Rice led the charge with three hits each, while Ryan Tuntland added a pair to boost his team-leading batting average. Wilson scored three of WVU's seven runs.

WVU starter Brock Dykxhoorn allowed three hits and walked three batters in 4 1/3 innings, but did strike out five YSU hitters. Ryan Tezak yielded the only two Penguin earned runs of the game before giving way to Paul in the bottom of the eighth.

With the win, WVU took the season series by a 3-1 margin. The Mountaineers split a pair of games against the Penguins in Winston-Salem, N.C. in February and took a contest at home earlier this month.

West Virginia heads back into Big 12 action this weekend with a three-game series against Kansas at Epling Stadium in Beckley. The Mountaineers and Jayhawks will open the set on Friday night at 6:30 p.m.

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