It was hardly the prettiest game of the year, but in the end, a win is a win, and that’s just what West Virginia got in a wild game against in-state rival Marshall at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston tonight.
Backup catcher Ivan Vera delivered the deciding blow in a game that had plenty of twists and turns with a one-out single in the 10th that got past Marshall’s left fielder and rolled to the wall, allowing Braden Zarbnisky to score from first and giving WVU its decisive 5-4 advantage.
“We got the W. It wasn’t pretty but some guys stepped up…That was good. A lot of guys did some good things. With the game on the line guys got it done,” said head coach Randy Mazey.
Marshall’s error in the 10th was certainly the costliest mistake of the night, but it was hardly the only one made by both teams. The Mountaineers and Thundering Herd combined for eight errors on the night.
The win stops a three-game losing streak in mid-week games, which have presented a major problem for WVU this year, and moves the Mountaineers’ overall record to 15-11. It also keeps the momentum they gained from a series win against Oklahoma State going as they head back to Morgantown for a stretch of five home games in the next week.
Coach Mazey handed the ball to freshman Michael Grove for his first career start tonight, and he wasn’t disappointed. Grove, who had struggled to the tune of a plus-10 ERA out of the bullpen this year, worked five solid innings of one-run baseball.
Grove allowed just one unearned run in the first inning, and really settled in from there, scattering five hits and a walk while striking out two hitters. Mazey said tonight’s outing might be just what the freshman needed for his confidence moving forward.
“He did fine. We needed that out of Grove for a team standpoint and from his standpoint…He held them in check and did pretty well,” Mazey said.
Grove found himself in a battle with Marshall starter Joshua Shapiro; another freshman. Shapiro, who came into the game with a 7.27 ERA, held WVU hitless for 5.2 innings, but was unable to keep his bid for a no-hitter going because of a lack of control.
Shapiro walked six batters and struck out nine, which was a major reason why his pitch count reached triple digits before he could get through six innings.
The Mountaineers were happy to see him leave too, as Ray Guerrini tripled home WVU’s first run of the game immediately after Shapiro got the hook.
West Virginia mustered just five hits on the night, compared to Marshall’s 13, and played an eyesore of a game on defense. But as Mazey said, enough guys stepped up in big spots to push the Mountaineers over the top.
WVU will be in action tomorrow night against Eastern Michigan at Monongalia County Ballpark before an off-day Thursday, followed by a three-game series against Furman starting Friday night.