MORGANTOWN — The first February home game in West Virginia baseball history featured subfreezing windchills, 13 stranded baserunners for Canisius and a walkoff celebration for Tristen Hudson.
The Mountaineers’ sophomore infielder had been 0-of-7 this season and 1-of-15 in his college career before a two-out, bottom-of-the-ninth single scored pinch-runner TJ Lake for 5-4 victory.
West Virginia evened its record at 2-2 despite being outhit 11-6 and watching closer Sam Kessler (1-0) fail to protect a one-run lead in the top of the ninth.
The Golden Griffins (1-3) tied it at 4-4 in the top of the ninth thanks to Stephen Bennett’s lead-off triple and Kessler’s wild pitch.
After Marques Inman and Ivan Gonzalez hit solo homers, the Mountaineers manufactured a run to break a 3-3 tie in the eighth. Freshman left fielder Austin Davis singled and stole two bases before No. 9 hole hitter Brandon White dropped a squeeze bunt.
With the game tied in WVU’s final at-bat, Inman drew a one-out walk and took second on a single by Paul McIntosh. With Lake pinch-running for Inman, Hudson’s single to shallow right ended it.
“The encouraging part of this game was our at-bats got better when the game was on the line,” said West Virginia coach Randy Mazey. “That’s the sign of a winning team when it really counts.”
Six WVU pitchers combined to allow two earned runs with 12 strikeouts. Junior left-hander Nick Snyder went 3 1/3 innings in his first career start and did not give up — offsetting four hits and a walk with six strikeouts.
Canisius pitchers issued nine walks, including the costly one in the ninth by Jarod Burmaster (0-1).
The Griffins stranded seven runners through four innings before scoring in the fifth. Even then they left the bases full when reliever Gabe Kurtzhals fanned Cole Hollins.
Canisius had two runners caught stealing while WVU swiped six bases, four by Davis.
“I thought offensively we had a little bit more juice in our bats in certain spots, so there were some good takeaways there,” said Canisius coach Matt Mazurek. “I think we need to clean up some things on the bases and offensively to help ourselves out when runner get into scoring position. But the opportunity to play today will be way more beneficial down the road as opposed to staying inside the past two days for practice.”