By Ryan Decker
Prior to last Saturday’s game against Jacksonville, West Virginia (14-10, 3-2) head coach Randy Mazey said, “We feel really good about our offense and our ability to come back.”
That was following his team’s walk-off win the night before, and that confidence showed a week later.
West Virginia scored five unanswered runs over the final four innings to earn a 5-3 comeback-victory in extras over No. 23 Oklahoma State (16-10, 1-4), extending the game thanks to the two-run home run by Cole Austin in the ninth.
WVU starting pitcher Michael Grove cruised through the first three innings, pitching to the minimum number of batters, while sitting four down on strikes.
The Mountaineers had a scoring opportunity in the first, getting a runner to second with two outs and the team’s leading hitter at the plate. Austin singled to right field, but Cowboy outfielder Cade Cabbiness’ strong throw beat Kyle Gray to the plate, keeping WVU off the board.
West Virginia had at least one runner reach base in each of the first four innings, but OSU starter Jonathan Heasley kept the Mountaineers at bay.
Grove retired the first 11 batters he faced before Oklahoma State broke the scoreless tie in the fourth inning.
Garrett Benge and Garrett McCain reached base with consecutive two-out singles, and DH Colin Simpson brought everyone home with a three-run home run to right.
The Mountaineers had another scoring opportunity the next inning.
Kyle Davis singled and Jackson Cramer drew a four-pitch walk to put two on with one out. Darius Hill singled the opposite way two batters later to load the bases with two outs.
Ivan Gonzalez worked to a good hitter’s count, but flew out to centerfield to end the inning.
West Virginia left a total of 11 runners on base.
Grove held the Cowboys to just the three runs in his seven innings on the mound. He pitched well outside of the fourth, holding the Cowboys to a total of five hits while striking out nine.
Grove and reliever Jackson Sigman holding Oklahoma State to that score was important.
Austin singled home a run in the seventh, cutting the deficit to 3-1.
Two innings later, Austin came up to the plate again with a runner on. The sophomore drilled the 2-0 pitch to left field for a two-run home run that tied the game at three runs a piece.
Austin finished the game 3-5 at the plate, one of three Mountaineer hitters to have a multi-hit game. He also drove in three runs.
The Mountaineers weren’t done scoring there, adding two more in the tenth as the game went to extra innings.
Braden Zarbnisky doubled and Jimmy Galusky reached on a fielder’s choice to put runners on the corners with no one out. A wild pitch allowed Zarbnisky to score from third to give WVU its first lead of the day.
A few pitches later, pinch hitter TJ Lake singled up the middle allowing Galusky to score from second, and giving the Mountaineers a 5-3 lead they would not surrender.
Zarbnisky earned the win, improving his record on the mound to 3-0 this year, after starting the ninth inning in center field before taking the hill. Oklahoma State used a total of five pitchers, with Cole Hearrean taking the loss and Jake Cowan earning the blown save.
The series will be decided tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m. ET. Conner Dotson (3-3, 5.53) will get the start for the series finale against Blake Battenfield (2-1, 3.42).