GRANVILLE — J.J. Wetherholt added three more hits to his college resume Tuesday night.
None of them played too much of a role in No. 24 West Virginia’s 9-7 victory against Marshall inside Mon County Ballpark.
Instead, it was the sophomore’s legs that got the job done for the Mountaineers, in a game that featured just about everything but the hidden-ball trick.
“That would have topped it all off,” Wetherholt joked.
For now, we’ll stick with Wetherholt’s wheels, which he put on display in different ways that helped WVU pull off its fifth-straight win against the Thundering Herd (11-11).
“I was always undersized growing up and was a later bloomer,” the WVU second baseman said. “I always had to find different ways to make a difference. Speed has always been a big part of my life. When I played football, I was always the fast kid.”
And so we get to the bottom of the seventh inning with Wetherholt on second base — he walked and then stole second for his 24th swipe of the season — with WVU holding a slim 7-5 lead.
Braden Barry crushed a ball to deep right-center. Marshall right fielder Elijah Vogelsong raced over to make a fine catch, but also tumbled to the ground in doing so.
Wetherholt tagged up and the rest was simply his ability to run.
“It was kind of tough, because if he drops that one, I have to score, so I couldn’t really line up the tag right away,” Wetherholt said. “I was trying to feel out what I was going to do.
“I timed it perfectly and got on the bag and took off. I didn’t know what was going on, but I got the green light, so I just kept the wheels going.”
In the eighth inning, Wetherholt forced himself into a rundown between first and second to allow teammate Tevin Tucker to score an insurance run for the final score.
“Maybe the biggest play of the game was J.J. getting caught stealing. How about that?” WVU manager Randy Mazey said. “That’s kind of ironic. That’s what speed does for you. That’s what kind of separates him from all of the other guys in the country hitting over .400. He’s got 24 stolen bases now and he can do things other people can’t do.”
As far as the game itself, it was a real grind. Both teams combined for 13 pitchers and 13 walks.
WVU’s Landon Wallace hit a bases-loaded triple that got the Mountaineers out to a 4-1 lead early. Caleb McNeely drove in another run with a double and freshman Sam White hit a towering home run to right field.
It also featured a group of WVU male students going topless behind the Marshall dugout and a brush-up at second base between WVU shortstop Tevin Tucker and Marshgall’s Gio Ferraro, who was trying to draw an interference call.
“There was a lot of energy in the park tonight,” Mazey said. “The game wasn’t pretty by any means.”
WVU reliever Carson Estridge (2-0) picked up the win and Wetherholt’s three hits gave him his 15th multi-hit game of the season.
WVU (19-6) now enters Big 12 play as the final team yet to play a conference series.
The Mountaineers travel to Kansas State (18-8, 4-2 Big 12) at 7 p.m. Friday in the first of a three-game series. The Wildcats, who beat Air Force 12-9 on Tuesday, are in a three-way tie for second in the league along with Oklahoma State and TCU.
WVU swept Kansas State last season in the regular season, but the Wildcats came back to eliminate the Mountaineers in the Big 12 tournament with an 8-5 victory.