MORGANTOWN — Ice water dripped off Kyle Gray’s right arm in what were already 50 degree temperatures.
It hardly mattered.
The WVU second baseman came up with a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning April 6, then was mobbed by teammates, who threw water on him in celebration.
The hit helped the Mountaineers salvage a split of a doubleheader against UNLV, at Monongalia County Ballpark.
“It was freezing. My arm is numb,” said Gray, who was 2 for 4 and drove in two runs in the game. “Surprisingly, it was a good feeling.”
Gray’s two-out single to center scored Braden Zarbnisky to clinch an
8-7 victory after WVU (12-15) fell behind, 7-1, in the fifth inning.
UNLV (23-10) pounded WVU pitching in taking an 11-4 win in the first game.
“I tell our pitchers all the time that when we get behind by five or six runs to just keep getting outs,” WVU head coach Randy Mazey said. “Our offense is going to wake up at any time.”
The Mountaineers’ offense woke up in the eighth with five runs to tie the game, 7-7.
With the bases loaded, Chase Illig had a pinch-hit double that scored three, then Jimmy Galusky’s groundout RBI scored pinch runner Tyler Doanes to tie the game.
For good measure, Gray also had an RBI single in the eighth.
“Hopefully, the eighth inning today will propel us into the future,” Mazey said. “We need to catch a rhythm offensively. Getting big hits like Kyle Gray did and Chase Illig did, that’s how you get to the level of hitting being contagious.”
Zarbnisky led off the ninth with a walk and was sacrificed to second by Ivan Gonzalez.
After Darius Hill struck out, Zarbnisky stole third and Marques Inman walked, which brought Gray back to the plate.
“I got a fastball on the inside,” he said. “I was looking for that early in the count and I got it.”
Inman, coming off a torn ACL from last season, was a combined 4 for 5 in the two games and scored four runs. Gray had three hits on the day.
Shane Ennis pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up the win for WVU.
UNLV starter Chase Maddux, the son of Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, who was in attendance, went six innings and allowed two runs on three hits.
Bryan Menendez, who came in relief in the eighth, took the loss.
In the first game, WVU starter Alek Manoah took the loss, after not being able to get out of the second inning.
Alan Strong, who allowed just two hits over six innings, took the win.
The two teams will take today off before completing the three-game series at noon Sunday.