GRANVILLE — A three-run rally in the bottom of the eighth inning propelled the WVU baseball team to an 8-6 victory over No. 19 Texas on April 27.
The Mountaineers (21-19, 5-9 Big 12) evened the series thanks to a rally that came after the Longhorns (30-16, 12-5) scored three of their own to take a 6-5 lead in the top of the eighth.
The win came in front of a season-high crowd of 2,618 at Monongalia County Ballpark, the ninth-largest home crowd in program history.
The series finale is set for 1 p.m. today.
The win was secured when WVU sophomore right-handed reliever Alek Manoah stranded the bases loaded with no outs in the ninth inning. Manoah also left two on in the top of the eighth, after U.T. took its lead.
“With the game on the line like that, you want the ball in the hands of your guy that lives for a moment like that, and that’s Alek Manoah,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “Guys at the plate who live for a moment like that, you want them at the plate. You can talk to freshmen all you want about, ‘Do you want to pitch against Texas in front of 3,000 people with the game on the line?’ They’ll all say, ‘Yeah,’ but then when it gets here, it’s not what they expected. Sometimes the moment gets to them a little bit, and that’s just part of being a freshman. It’s hard to teach. It’s experience that has to teach you that.
“All of our guys that are going through this with the energy and excitement of the crowd are going to get that much better next time around.
Manoah pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings and earned the win, while junior second baseman and Texas native Kyle Gray led the Mountaineers’ offense with two hits and three RBIs, on a pair of home runs. Gray had his second multi-homer game of the season with a solo shot in the third and a two-run home run in the fifth inning. Gray leads the team with nine home runs on the season.
Gray was one of four Mountaineers with two hits and one of six who scored at least one run. All but one WVU starter had a hit in the win. WVU and Texas both had 13 hits, while U.T. stranded 14 runners on base and WVU left eight on.
Today is the third trading card giveaway of the season, Kids Day, postgame autographs and running the bases, with a new Kids Zone presented By WVU Medicine Children’s and Mr. Twister’s Balloon Art and Face Painting.