Darius Hill’s infield single in the eighth inning brought in the go-ahead run and capped a four run rally that saw West Virginia turn a 4-1 eight inning deficit into a 5-4 win over the Kansas State Wildcats.
Hill’s knock was the third hit WVU came through with in a two-out rally against Kansas State reliever Luke Benenati. Prior to Hill’s go-ahead RBI, freshman Braden Zarbnisky came off the bench to pinch hit for Jimmy Galusky and flipped a two-run single into right field to tie the game.
Head coach Randy Mazey said Zarbnisky’s hit it where they ain’t approach was a major reason why he turned to the freshman off the bench.
“When you just need a single, that’s what Zarb can do…It’s really hard to play defense against Zarb, he can hit it where they’re not playing him,” he said.
The win puts West Virginia at 5-6 in conference play and 18-16 overall. The Mountaineers sit in fifth place in the Big 12 and a game and a half ahead of Oklahoma and Baylor.
Coming into the series against a team that had been 1-8 in conference play prior to this weekend, the prospect of being swept was likely the furthest thing from WVU’s mind. But facing that prospect today, Mazey said he had a simple message to his team this morning.
“We talked about it before the game. Today was a pride game…We lost the first two games of the series. Just come out and show some pride today,” he said.
The Mountaineers were spurred on by a strong start from BJ Myers, who outside of a four-run third inning held Kansas State down in the series finale. Myers pitched eight innings and allowed four runs on eight hits while striking out five and walking just one hitter.
“He was really good. They got four hits and scored four turns in the fourth inning…BJ’s come a long way. He showed some energy on the mound…That’s what we need out of this group; some guys with fire and he showed that today,” Mazey said.
Blake Smith came in out of the bullpen and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning and nailed down his fourth save of the year with a strikeout of Quintin Crandall.
On the offensive side, West Virginia tallied 11 hits on the day, nine of which came from the sixth inning on. Once the Mountaineers chased K-State starter Corey Fischer in the sixth, they feasted on the Wildcat bullpen and were able to claw their way back.
WVU got big days out of both of its catchers this afternoon. Freshman Ivan Vera, who was in the designated hitter spot, went 2-for-4 and Ray Guerrini enjoyed a 3-for-4 afternoon that included a sixth inning RBI double.
The Mountaineers will be in action next when they take on Youngstown State at home Tuesday night, and then will head out on the road for a three-game set with Oklahoma next weekend.