Although West Virginia certainly doesn't have a primrose path at this point, Sunday's 5-4 win put WVU in position to at least challenge for one of the final berths after rallying from an early deficit and holding on for the crucial win.
After giving up an early lead again, WVU battled back with four runs in the late going, then withstood a Villanova rally for the victory.
The Wildcats loaded the bases in the bottom of the first with none out, but WVU pitcher Kenny Durst worked out of the jam by getting a popup and two fly balls, while only allowing one runner to score.
In the top of the second, it was WVU's turn as Jordon Yost walked to lead off the inning, was sacrificed to second in the ever-familiar pattern, then moved to third when Chris Enourato reached on an error. Catch Justin Parks drove Yost home with a single to tie the game at one-all.
Villanova manufactured another run in the second as a single, a sacrifice, a wild pitch and a groundout scored the Wildcats' second run of the game to put them in front at 2-1.
After the early scoring, both pitchers settled into a groove over the next few innings. Durst allowed just two hits over the next five innings as he held the home team in check, but his teammates couldn't muster any additional support in the third, fourth or fifth innings, which left the score the same entering the top of the sixth.
Austin Markel walked to lead off, and after moving to second on yet another sacrifice bunt, dashed to third on a wild pitch. Yost followed with a single to plate Markel and tie the score at 2-2, but was forced out one batter later. West Virginia wasn't done yet, however, as Jason Pape, who reached on a fielder's choice, stole second and came home on Parks' RBI single, his second of the game.
One inning later, WVU provided Durst with a cushion. After loading the bases with one out, Justin Jenkins scored on a catcher's interference call and Chris Enourato walked to force in another run. That left the Mountaineers leading 5-2, and they would need the entire three-run margn to get the win.
Derek Shunk's two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth cut the lead to one, chased Durst, and brought on Levi Maxwell, who promptly allowed a double and hit a batter to put the go-ahead run aboard. However, Enourato, who has been sterling in relief, came on to get a strikeout to end the inning.
Enourato then allowed some drama of his own in the ninth, as he hit a batter and allowed a single with two out to put the potential winning run aboard. However, he got Shunk, who had homered earlier, on a line drive out that leftfielder Brent Lockhart made a diving save on to end the game.
Parks was 2-4 with two RBI while Markel was 2-3 with two walks and two runs scored. Yost was 1-2 with three walks, and had an RBI and a run scored.
Durst had a sold outing before giving way to Maxwell and Enourato. He gave up four earned runs, but allowed just six hits and one walk while striking out four. Enourato earned a save with his 1 1/3 innings of work. West Virginia pitchers hit three Wildcat batters.
West Virginia plays an out of conference game at Maryland on Tuesday before travelling to Connecticut for a three game series this weekend. The Mountaineers are now 7-13 in the Big East, trailing Cincinnati (8-12) by one game. UConn is 6-12.