Mountaineers Survive to Win Series

After splitting the first two games of the series against Cal State Northridge, the West Virginia baseball team needed to close out its week in California with a victory to mark the end of the successful trip.

The Mountaineers needed all of their bats in their 14-11 victory against the Matadors, a slugfest in which each team pounded out 18 hits apiece.

It was quite a change for a WVU team (10-6) that has had the success it has had up to this point in the season thanks to its strong pitching. This time, it was WVU bats that came up with timely hitting multiple times over the course of the back-and-forth game that helped the pitching staff when things got difficult.

"It's been a long trip for these kids," said WVU head coach Randy Mazey in a release. "It seems like we've been out here for a month, so it'll be good to get back home and sleep in our own beds and get back to familiar surroundings."

West Virginia appeared to be in the driver's seat early on when a Shaun Wood two-run home run in the second inning scored Max Nogay to give the Mountaineers a 3-1 lead out of the gate. But that's when WVU started to run into a little bit of trouble.

Mountaineer starting pitcher Sean Carley issued walks to two of the first three batters he faced in the bottom half of the second, and the Matadors got three timely hits with two outs to drive in four runs - all earned - against the junior right-hander.

Carley allowed five earned runs through the first two frames after giving up only two in his first 27 innings pitched in 2014 (0.67 earned run average before Saturday's game).

West Virginia would tie the game up in the third on a Ryan McBroom single and a Cameron O'Brien sacrifice fly, knotting things up at 5-5.

But the Mountaineer rally was only getting started.

WVU would strike for four runs in the fourth inning and would hold onto a 10-7 lead when Carley exited the game with one out in the sixth inning following his third walk of the game in favor of reliever Pascal Paul.

With one runner on base when he got in the game, Paul gave up back-to-back hits and Cal State Northridge got a two-run double from left fielder Nick Blaser before the senior settled into a groove and retired the next two hitters.

Carley gave up 10 hits and eight runs, all earned, while walking three and striking out two in 5.1 innings pitched. It was just the third time in 14 starts that one of WVU's top-three weekend starters did not throw at least six innings - with Saturday's game being the first time the Mountaineers have won when that has happened.

"It's nice to win a game when you don't get starting pitching," Mazey said. "We've been getting great starting pitching and you always wonder if the starter can't go seven innings are you going to be able to win. It's nice to know we can get into an offensive fight and still win the game."

The Mountaineers would get their insurance runs in the eighth inning when they struck for four more runs, highlighted by McBroom driving the third pitch of the inning out of the ballpark for a two-run home run, his fifth of the season. The first baseman drove in five runs Saturday, and he's currently tied for the Big 12 lead in home runs and is four RBI away from the top spot in the league through WVU's first 16 games.

After Paul got settled in for 2.2 innings, Mazey handed the ball over to Joby Lapkowicz for the final inning. The Matadors were able to threaten, scoring two runs on a Chester Pak home run to cut into the five-run WVU lead before the Mountaineers brought Corey Walter in to shut the door on Northridge's final rally.

Seven of the Matadors' 11 runs Saturday came with two outs, including their two runs in the ninth and all four second inning runs.

McBroom went 4-for-6 and Wood finished 3-for-5 with three RBI to help lead the Mountaineers. Centerfielder Bobby Boyd scored four runs.

The trio of Pak, Blaser and Ryan Raslowsky led Cal State Northridge with three RBI apiece and accounted for nine of its 18 hits in the game.

The Mountaineers play again Tuesday in Charleston, W.Va., against Marshall.

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