Despite not facing a deficit during the entire game, the West Virginia baseball team was defeated on Sunday afternoon after Texas A&M hit a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning, winning 11-10.
Following a double and two walks off of West Virginia reliever Sam Kessler to load the bases, Texas A&M infielder Bryce Blaum connected on a 3-2 pitch and deposited it beyond the left field fence, obliterating the Mountaineer lead — and Regional Final hopes — in grand fashion.
“I’m not going to let one inning of baseball — or one game — dictate my feelings about West Virginia baseball because I couldn’t be prouder of everybody in that locker room,” WVU head coach Randy Mazey said postgame.
Outside of the missed pitch resulting in the grand slam, the Mountaineers saw success in a variety of areas.
West Virginia starting pitcher Ryan Bergert set the tone early for the Mountaineers’ pitching staff as the freshman right-hander pitched three shutout innings before a near two hourweather delay caused a halt in the action.
Emerging from the delay, the Mountaineers turned to right-hander Zach Ottinger out of the bullpen. The sophomore picked up where Bergert left off, allowing only one hit in the first three innings of his outing.
However, the Texas A&M lineup managed to find a way to get to Ottinger as they hung six runs on the board in the seventh inning. After Cam Blake brought home two runs with an RBI double, a rally to load the bases culminated in a grand slam off of the bat of junior outfielder Logan Foster.
Bergert finished having allowed only two hits and three walks while striking out three while Ottinger, who ran into trouble during his fourth inning on the mound, ended the afternoon having given up seven runs (five earned) on six hits and two walks.
Offensively, run support from the West Virginia lineup started in the second inning. After leadoff hitter Ivan Gonzalez reached first base with a single, junior infielder Kevin Brophy homered to left field for his ninth home run of the season.
Already manned with a two-run lead, West Virginia (1-2) began to seek a few insurance runs to distance themselves from the Aggies.
In the fourth inning, with junior outfielder TJ Lake on second base, a double from freshman infielder Tevin Tucker brought Lake home. Tucker scored during the next at-bat after a successful WVU bunt was followed up by a Texas A&M throwing error.
After leadoff hitter Darius Hill started the fifth inning off with a double, junior designated hitter Paul McIntosh belted a pitch from Aggies’ relief pitcher Chris Weber over the wall in left field for a two-run homer.
The Mountaineers kept their foot on the gas as the game went on, adding additional scores in three of the game’s final four innings: one run in the sixth inning, two in the seventh and one in the eighth.
Yet, despite their success coming often throughout the game, the Mountaineers unable to finish with a victory. West Virginia now eliminated from College World Series contention.
“This may go down as maybe the greatest team that West Virginia baseball has ever put together,” Mazey said. “How could you let one pitch, one at-bat or one inning overshadow what this group of kids has accomplished? I’m not going to do that.”
Texas A&M (2-1) will take on Duke (2-0) on Sunday evening. Due to the double-elimination format, the Aggies will have to beat Duke twice in order to be crowned champions of the Morgantown Regional while the Blue Devils only need to win once.