CONWAY, S.C. – Trailing by two runs heading to the top of the ninth, the No. 22/23/27-ranked West Virginia University baseball team rallied for four runs in the final frame in a 9-7 win over Bryant on Sunday morning at Springs Brooks Stadium in Conway, South Carolina.
Freshman infielder Nathan Blasick came up big in the comeback, hitting a two-out, pinch-hit, three-run home run to give the Mountaineers the late lead in the final day of the CCU Baseball Tournament. It was part of a six-home run day for WVU. In all, West Virginia finished with nine runs on 16 hits with six errors, while Bryant tallied seven runs on nine hits with three errors.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Jacob Watters earned the win, the first of his career, while Bryant’s Jack Ipsen took the loss. Sophomore righty Skylar Gonzalez registered the save.
“We came down here without eight-to-10 guys on the team who had to stay back home, so we had to count on some new guys to play really well down here, and they did,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “We got a lot of production out of guys that normally wouldn’t have been in the lineup, and that was a huge hit at the end of the game.”
After WVU (4-3) stranded a runner on second to begin the game, Bryant (2-4) quickly took the lead on a two-run homer in the bottom of the first. From there, fifth-year senior infielder Kevin Brophy cut the deficit in half with WVU’s first long ball of the day, a solo shot to right. It was the first of two homers for the Randolph, New Jersey, native.
Bryant tacked on another run in the second, before it tallied back-to-back solo shots in the fifth to make it 5-1. In the top of the sixth, it was West Virginia’s turn for back-to-back blasts, as redshirt junior catcher/outfielder Vince Ippoliti and sophomore outfielder Victor Scott each went yard, making it a 5-3 ballgame.
The Bulldogs made it a three-run game again in the sixth, scoring on a WVU throwing error. It stayed that way until the top of the eighth when Brophy and freshman infielder Mikey Kluska both homered, getting it to 6-5. It marked the first home run of Kluska’s career.
After Bryant added an unearned run in the bottom of the eighth to make it 7-5, the comeback was on for WVU in the ninth. First, Brophy recorded his third RBI of the day with a sacrifice fly to deep center, scoring Scott. Then, freshman outfielder Braden Barry and freshman infielder Ben Abernathy kept the game alive, leading to Blasick’s first career blast.
WVU scored four runs in the top of the ninth, including three with two outs.
Moments later, Gonzalez came on in the ninth and shut the door on the wild, come-from-behind victory.
Ippoliti and Scott each finished with three hits to lead the Mountaineers, while Scott and Brophy scored two runs in the win. In all, six different players finished with multiple hits.
On the mound, sophomore left-hander Jake Carr went 4.2 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits, while striking out five. Redshirt sophomore right-hander Noah Short, Watters and Gonzalez all worked out of the bullpen.
With the win, WVU improved to 4-0 all-time against Bryant. It also helped West Virginia finish 4-3 in February, marking the fifth time it has played winning baseball in the season’s opening month in the last six years.
The club’s six home runs were the most since June 2, 2017, against Maryland in the NCAA Tournament.
Next up, the Mountaineers return to Morgantown for their home-opening series against Kent State from March 5-7, at Monongalia County Ballpark. The series begins a 15-game homestand, which covers the entire month of March.