WVU makes mark in baseball Regional, falls to Wake Forest
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Playing in its first NCAA Regional baseball tournament since 1996, West Virginia made a lasting mark by beating Maryland twice, but could not overcome host Wake Forest in two, season-ending losses to the Demon Deacons.
West Virginia’s season closed with a 36-26 overall record. Wake Forest will take its 42-18 record to one of the tournament’s remaining Super Regionals where a win would catapult the Deacs into the College World Series in Omaha.
Played in Winston-Salem on the home grounds of the Deacs, the Regional opened with the Mountaineers drilling Maryland, 9-1, behind a six-homer offense that stopped the Terrapins.
Both Kyle Davis and Jimmy Galusky had two home runs and Cole Austin and Ivan Gonzalez both connected on round trippers.
Reliever B.J. Myers picked up the pitching win with 5.2 innings of effective relief. Starter Alex Manoah went 3.1 innings.
Wake Forest defeated UMBC in the other opening-round game.
On Day Two of the tournament, West Virginia fell to the late-game heroics of Wake Forest, losing 4-3 when the Deacs scored a walk-off run in the ninth.
West Virginia took a 3-0 lead in the first when Jackson Cramer homered. Wake Forest scored two in the fifth, made it a 3-3 game in the seventh and remained unbeaten in the Regional with game-winning run in the ninth.
Isaiah Kearns started and went four innings and was followed by Sam Kessler and Braden Zarbniskey. Zarbniskey suffered the loss.
Kyle Gray and Zarbniskey each had two hits of WVU’s seven hits.
Back against Maryland and needing three straight wins to take the Regional, the Mountaineers once again tripped the Terps, winning 8-5 after once trailing, 4-0.
Jackson Sigman was the winning pitcher going 4.2 innings in relief of Kade Strowd.
A four-run eighth inning boosted the Mountaineers to the season-saving victory. Darius Hill had three hits and Zarbniskey contributed two hits as the Mountaineers moved to the final round where they had to defeat Wake Forest twice.
In the finals, Wake Forest opened what appeared to be a commanding 10-3 lead by chasing Myers – pitching on one day of rest – and shelling Shane Ennis – two innings, six hits, four runs – along the way.
The Mountaineers rallied throughout, but couldn’t erase all of the seven-run deficit they once faced.
The Demon Deacons prevailed, 12-8, despite three hits from WVU’s Gonzalez and Cole’s two hits.
Injured Michael Grove, West Virginia’s No.1 starter during much of the regular season, did not pitch, thus creating a shortened list of available pitchers to Coach Randy Mazey.