A six-run fourth inning and a dominant bullpen propelled the No. 25 West Virginia University baseball team to an 8-6 victory at Virginia Tech on Tuesday night at English Field in Blacksburg, Virginia.
The Mountaineers (24-15) trailed 5-0 early, but responded with six runs in the fourth inning, three of them unearned, to take a 6-5 lead. The Hokies (20-23) answered to tie the game in the fifth, but again WVU responded with a run to take the lead back for good the following inning.
“That’s as good of a win as we’ve had all season,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “To come on the road, with a four-and-a-half hour bus ride, and go down 5-0 and come back and win that game with a bullpen that needs to have people step up in it. That’s a great win for us tonight.”
Senior right-handed reliever Jackson Sigman fueled the win with 3.2 lights-out innings in relief, striking out a career-best eight batters while allowing just one hit with no runs and no walks.
Sigman picked up his second career win and improved to 2-2 on the season.
“Credit to coach (Derek) Matlock for getting (Jackson) in the bullpen yesterday and making some physical adjustments with him, some mechanical adjustments, and getting the ball sinking a little bit more,” Mazey added. “All of a sudden, we have our guy back with a lot of confidence.”
West Virginia’s six-run fourth was highlighted by a three-run home run by junior left fielder Kyle Davis. He led the team with three RBIs.
In the win, freshman Brandon White scored two runs and extended his hitting streak to eight games and his reached-base streak to 16 games, both career-longs. Sophomore second baseman Kyle Gray reached base in his career-high-tying 10th consecutive game.
The Hokies got on the board with a run in the bottom of the second inning. The frame began with a leadoff double, and a sacrifice bunt put VT ahead, 1-0. Virginia Tech added four runs in the third, on four hits, to extend the lead to 5-0. The first run scored on a wild pitch, and the next three came on a three-run home run with two outs.
West Virginia answered right back with six runs in the top of the fourth inning, sending 11 batters to the plate. Sophomore catcher Ivan Gonzalez led off the inning with a single up the middle and scored on a fielder’s choice. With two runners on, Davis launched his sixth home run of the season to right-center to put the Mountaineers within one, at 5-4.
With two outs, a single, walk and hit-by-pitch loaded the bases for Gonzalez again, who reached on a fielding error by the Tech shortstop. Two runs scored on the play as WVU took a 6-5 lead.
Freshman right-hander Cody Wood, who got the final out of the third inning, held the Hokies scoreless in the fourth before Virginia Tech scored an unearned run in the fifth to tie the game at 6-6.
Sigman then came in and got the final two outs in the fifth, with two strikeouts. The senior stranded a runner on base.
WVU again responded right back, with a run in the sixth inning to take a 7-6 lead. Freshman catcher Chase Illig led off the inning with a walk, reached third on a sacrifice bunt and a throwing error, and scored on a sacrifice fly.
Sigman threw a 1-2-3 sixth inning, with two more strikeouts, and he struck out another two in the seventh. He pitched another perfect inning in the eighth, again with two strikeouts.
The Mountaineers added an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning to extend the advantage to two, at 8-6. White led off the inning with a triple, and scored on a one-out safety squeeze by Gonzalez.
Sophomore righty Braden Zarbnisky came on in the bottom of the ninth inning and picked up his second save of the season.
WVU returns home for a series against Oklahoma, from April 28-30. The series begins on Friday, April 28, at 6:30 p.m. ET. Sunday’s finale will be broadcast locally on the Nexstar Media Group’s network of statewide affiliates. Tickets are available, at 1-800-WVU GAME, WVUGAME.com or at the Mountaineer Ticket Office in the WVU Coliseum or on gameday at Monongalia County Ballpark. There are multiple promotions set for all three games against OU, which can be found on WVUsports.com/promotions. Links to live streams, radio broadcasts and live stats can be found on the baseball schedule page on WVUsports.com.
NOTES: West Virginia improved to 24-15 on the season, 14-11 on the road and 15-9 in non-conference action … The Mountaineers improved to 34-53-1 all-time against Virginia Tech and have won two in a row and eight of the last 12 … Jackson Sigman earned the win, improving to 2-2 on the season, striking out a career-best eight batters in 3.2 innings and allowing no runs on one hit with no walks … Braden Zarbnisky picked up his second career save … Kyle Davis hit his sixth home run of the season and 20th of his career in the fourth inning … Brandon White extended his hitting streak to eight games and his reached-base streak to 16 games, both career longs … Kyle Gray has reached base in a career-high-tying 10 consecutive games.