The West Virginia Mountaineers found themselves in a 7-2 hole after a nightmare first inning for starter BJ Myers, but reliever Michael Grove and the WVU lineup picked him up and came back to win 12-7 in the series finale on the road against Oklahoma.
Grove came in after Myers lasted just two-thirds of an inning and took the ball and ran with it. The freshman had his best game in a Mountaineers uniform, lasting 8.1 scoreless innings while striking out 13 Sooners and allowing just four hits and two walks.
“We basically outplayed them the whole weekend we thought. Super proud of our guys. This one goes out to Michael Grove. Who knew? That’s really, really nice. That is a premium Big 12 pitcher we’ve got in Michael Grove,” said head coach Randy Mazey.
While Grove was cooling the Sooner lineup down, West Virginia’s was heating up to the tune of 10 unanswered runs over the span of the last eight innings. The Mountaineers clubbed two home runs today. One, a go-ahead two run blast by Ray Guerrini in the fifth, was just the latest highlight coming from a true leader in WVU’s lineup.
“He’s just relished the role of leader on this team. As a leader he’s calmed down some. He’s not over-zealous at the plate. He’s matured as a hitter…He deserves everything that happened to him,” Mazey said.
The second homer provided the decisive blow of the ball game. After scuffling through his first few at-bats of the game, freshman Cole Austin broke out in a major way with a two-out grand slam in the top of the seventh to put WVU up 12-7.
Mazey said although he doesn’t usually make a habit of talking to hitters about their approach at the plate in the middle of games, he did that with Austin today, and the results showed big time as his slam turned a one-run contest into a five-run cushion for the Mountaineers.
“Cole Austin is hitting around. 200 and has been having some good at bats, but today he wasn’t…You’ve got to make some sort of adjustment, and boy did he. Without that it’s a one-run game and who knows what happens,” Mazey said.
The win in the series finale helped WVU avoid what would have been a demoralizing sweep at the hands of a team that sits right beside it in the middle of the conference standings, and improves the Mountaineers overall record to 20-18 and 6-8 in the Big 12. The Sooners fell to 20-20-1 and 6-9 in conference play.
Up next, the Mountaineers will take on Marshall in Morgantown Tuesday night. West Virginia defeated the Thundering Herd in an extra inning thriller in Charleston earlier this month. On tap for next weekend is a three-game series with the Baylor Bears at Monongalia County Ballpark.