By Ryan Decker
No. 21 West Virginia (23-13, 9-4) has a flair for the dramatic.
A total of six of WVU’s games this season have ended in walk-off fashion, and scoring deep into the ball game has dictated the outcome on several other occasions. That includes Friday night.
Off the strength of a four-run eighth inning, West Virginia pulled off a 9-7 comeback victory over Kansas State (19-19, 2-11) in Manhattan.
The Mountaineers entered the eighth inning trailing by two runs, a situation that has not been a good omen to the team this season.
However, WVU used its third multi-run inning of the game to take the lead.
Kyle Davis drove in a run on single up the middle, and was then pinch ran for by TJ Lake. Lake advanced to second on a single, and then stole third as part of a double steal.
With Jimmy Galusky still at the plate, both runners took off as Galusky attempted to put down the bunt on a suicide squeeze play. The pitch went array, allowing Lake to score easy and tie the game.
A fielder’s choice and a two-out single by Kyle Gray later in the inning put WVU out in front 9-7, a lead it would not surrender.
Gray led Mountaineer hitters with a 3-for-5 game at the plate. Galusky and Jackson Cramer also had multi-hit performances, as WVU collected 13 hits in the game.
West Virginia starting pitcher BJ Myers was able to pitch out of trouble in the first inning, but couldn’t escape it in each of the next three innings.
After allowing a one-out double, Myers gave up an RBI-single to Josh Ethier in the second.
Then in the third, a single to right field by Steve Serratore allowed two runs to score, once again giving the Wildcats the lead, 3-2.
K-State got to Myers again in the fourth, as a pair of two-out doubles brought a runner around to touch home.
Myers lasted just five innings on the mound, his shortest start since March 3 against Tulane. He gave up a total of four runs on nine hits.
His offense, though, would get him off the hook, making the start a no decision.
In between productive trips to the plate for Kansas State, WVU momentarily took the lead on a two-run single by Darius Hill in the top of the third.
Two innings later, the Mountaineers added two more runs.
Galusky singled to start the inning, and scored two batters later on a groundout by Gray. A ball put in play by Cole Austin with two outs resulted in an error by the Wildcat shortstop that allowed Ivan Gonzalez to score and tie the game 4-4.
Kansas State starting pitcher Justin Heskett lasted over an inning longer on the mound than Myers, working into the seventh inning, but gave up a pair of singles before being relieved.
Hudson Treu entered the game with the Mountaineers having runners on the corners and zero outs. Treu induced a double play and a lineout to get out of the inning, but the Wildcats traded two outs for a run on the twin killing, as WVU took a 5-4 lead.
Once again, West Virginia’s lead was short-lived.
Hitting with two on and one out, Trent McMaster singled through the left side, driving in the tying run.
After a WVU pitching change, each of the next two hitters drove in runs. Josh Rolette doubled home the go-ahead run, and Hanz Harker padded the lead with a sacrifice fly, putting the Wildcats in front 7-5.
Rolette, who has struggled hitting for much of the season, finished the game 2-for-4 at the plate with a pair of two baggers.
Game two of the three-game series is scheduled for tomorrow at 5 p.m. ET. Michael Grove (3-1, 2.70 ERA) will start on the mound for WVU. Parker Rigler (2-4,3.46) toes the rubber for K-State.