Barry Baseball

Junior Braden Barry steps up to the plate against Minnesota at the Monongalia County Ballpark on March 8, 2023.

The West Virginia University baseball team swept a series for the first time in 2023, winning 7-4 to take the third of three games against Minnesota Golden Gophers at Monongalia County Ballpark

The Mountaineers (10-4) gained an early lead but eventually surrendered it to Minnesota (2-14) before an offensive outburst in the bottom of the eighth inning gave them the win.

The scoring started in the bottom of the third inning, when a sacrifice fly to center field from sophomore second baseman JJ Wetherholt scored junior left fielder Landon Wallace.

Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, redshirt senior shortstop Tevin Tucker was thrown out trying to tag up to third and senior catcher Dayne Leonard flew out to right field, as a bases loaded with no outs situation quickly turned into the inning ending with only one run to show for it.

Minnesota tied the game up in the top of the fourth inning when designated hitter Boston Merila doubled down the left field line, scoring second baseman Brady Counsell.

However, Golden Gophers first baseman Jake Perry stopped at third base and Minnesota third baseman Jake Larson’s deep fly ball to left field was caught by Wallace, ending the frame.

West Virginia regained the lead in the bottom of the inning, as sophomore first baseman Grant Hussey drove in freshman designated hitter Sam White with an RBI double down the right field line to make it 2-1.

Minnesota then took a lead of their own in the top of the sixth inning, as a pair of two-out RBI hits gave the Golden Gophers a lead, as a double to right center and by Perry and single to right field by Merila made it 3-2 Minnesota.

The Mountaineers had an opportunity to tie the game or even take the lead in the bottom of the seventh inning, but hit into an inning-ending double play.

In the eighth inning, an RBI single by freshman third baseman Ellis Garcia tied the game, and a passed ball gave West Virginia the lead. A groundout by Landon Wallace plated Garcia, and an RBI double by Tucker made it 6-3.

Eventually Minnesota escaped the inning, but not before a bases loaded walk extended the WVU lead to 7-3.

Much like the fifth inning the prior day, the eighth inning was a nightmare inning for the Golden Gopher, as the Mountaineers scored five runs in the inning.

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Keegan Allen closed out the game, and WVU clinched the sweep with a 7-4 win.

It was yet another strong offensive performance at Monongalia County Ballpark, as the seven runs gives the Mountaineers 37 runs in four games at “The Mon” in 2023. The WVU offense had 11 hits in 29 at-bats, also walking five times.

While right fielder Caleb McNeely didn’t manage any hits, he stole a stunning four bases during the game. Other standout offensive players on the day include sophomore center fielder Braden Barry (3-4) and Tevin Tucker (2-3).

The showing on the mound was similarly strong, as four pitchers combined to pitch nine innings while only surrendering two earned runs.

Sophomore Grant Siegel got the start again, pitching 5 ⅔ innings, as the sophomore right-handed transfer from Tulane gave up two earned runs on two hits, allowing four walks and striking out six batters.

A trip of right-handed pitchers entered in relief to finish the game, as junior Carlson Reed, redshirt senior Noah Short and Allen combined to pitch 3 ⅓ innings while giving up one run.

Reed highlighted this group, pitching two scoreless innings. Short received his first college win due to his eighth inning appearance.

Spring break for the team means a trip to North Carolina, where West Virginia will take on the Appalachian State Mountaineers (8-5). The first game will take place on Tuesday, March 14, at L.P. Frans Stadium. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. with streaming available on ESPN+.

Sports Writer

Jake Howard is a senior journalism major and sports communication minor at WVU, from Leesburg, Virginia. Jake is a lifelong sports fan, he covered sports on YouTube previously and now writes about sports for the DA.