MORGANTOWN - The No. 15-seeded and 13th-ranked West Virginia University baseball team's season came to an end with an 11-10 loss to No. 17-ranked Texas A&M in the NCAA Morgantown Regional on Sunday afternoon at Monongalia County Ballpark.
In an elimination contest with a spot in the regional final on the line, the Mountaineers (38-22) led 9-1 early, but the Aggies (39-22-1) rallied late and won it in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The loss ends West Virginia's 2019 season, which was highlighted by the program's 13th NCAA Championship appearance in program history and a selection as a regional host for the first time since 1955. WVU won 38 games, second-most all-time, and was ranked in the top-25 for the final seven weeks of the season. As the Mountaineers went 18-7 at home, they played in front of the top five single-game crowds in program history and the top total and average season crowds.
"You can't let one game, one pitch or one inning overshadow what our program has accomplished and how far we've come and what we've done," WVU coach Randy Mazey said. "I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to let one inning of baseball or one game dictate my feeling about West Virginia baseball, because I couldn't be prouder of anybody in that locker room. Everybody on that team had a lot to do with us being here. You guys have been around, some of you longer than I have. This may go down as the greatest team that West Virginia baseball has ever put together. So, how could you let one pitch, or one at bat, or one inning, overshadow what this group of kids has accomplished. I'm not going to do that. I'm going to walk out of here like we just had a major victory, because I think we did."
Today's loss marks the final collegiate games for senior catcher Ivan Gonzalez, senior right fielder Darius Hill, senior left-handed reliever Zach Reid and senior infielder Andrew Zitel. WVU's 10 runs came on 16 hits, while A&M's 11 runs came on 11 hits.
Gonzalez and junior third baseman Kevin Brophy each led the Mountaineers with three hits, while Brophy had a team-high three RBIs. Brophy and sophomore designated hitter Paul McIntosh each homered. Hill had two hits, including a third-inning double, the 79th of his career to tie the Big 12 career record.
Junior right-handed reliever Sam Kessler suffered the loss. He pitched the final 2.1 innings and allowed four runs on three hits with four strikeouts and three walks. Freshman right-handed starter Ryan Bergert pitched 3.0 innings and gave up just two hits with three strikeouts. However, a rain delay of nearly two hours in the bottom of the fourth inning put an end to his second career start.
West Virginia took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on Brophy's home run to left. That scored Gonzalez, who led off the frame with an infield single. Bergert, who escaped a two-on, one-out jam in the first with back-to-back strikeouts, added an inning-ending strikeout to leave one on in the second. Gonzalez caught an Aggie runner attempting to steal second to end the third.
The Mountaineers made it 4-0 in the fourth with the help of two errors. Junior left fielder TJ Lake got things started with a single to left and advanced to third on the fielding error by the left fielder. He scored the inning's first run on a double to left by freshman shortstop Tevin Tucker, and Tucker scored on an error on a sacrifice bunt attempt by freshman center fielder Austin Davis.
Inclement weather forced a delay of nearly two hours in the bottom of the fourth. After play resumed, freshman right-hander Zach Ottinger relieved Bergert and retired all three batters he faced in the inning.
WVU's bats stayed hot after the delay, thanks to McIntosh's two-run home run in the top of the fifth. That made it 6-0, as senior right fielder Darius Hill scored. A&M got on the board in the bottom of the fifth, on a run-scoring double play groundout that followed a pair of errors. The Mountaineers wasted no time getting the run back however, as Doanes singled up the middle to bring home Davis.
Ottinger stranded the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth, and WVU added two more in the seventh to extend its advantage to 9-1. The offense came courtesy of a two-RBI single to right by Lake, which plated Gonzalez and Brophy.
The Aggies answered with six runs on five hits with the help of an error in the bottom of the seventh inning to cut West Virginia's lead to two, at 9-7. An RBI single scored the first two before a grand slam by Logan Foster. Kessler came in and got the last two outs of the inning and left a runner on second.
WVU got a run back in the top of the eighth, as Brophy singled home sophomore pinch-runner Tristen Hudson. Kessler followed with a scoreless eighth and left two runners on thanks to back-to-back strikeouts. In the bottom of the ninth, Texas A&M won the game on a two-out grand slam by Bryce Blaum. It came after a double and two walks loaded the bases.
Notes: West Virginia made its 13th NCAA Championship appearance in program history and hosted the event for the second time in program history (1955) WVU falls to 11-26 all-time in NCAA play and 2-4 at home The Mountaineers conclude the 2019 season with a 38-22 record, a 18-7 mark at home and a 4-4 postseason record West Virginia's 38 wins are its second-most in program history and two shy of the program record of 40, set in 1994 Today's attendance was 3,788, the third-largest home crowd in program history Darius Hill hit his 79th career double in the third inning to extend his school record and tie the Big 12 record, set by Baylor's Chris Durbin, from 2000-03 Kevin Brophy hit his ninth home run of the season and 15th of his career in the second inning Paul McIntosh hit his team-leading 10th homer of the year in the fifth inning Today's loss marks the final collegiate games for senior catcher Ivan Gonzalez, senior right fielder Darius Hill, senior left-handed reliever Zach Reid and senior infielder Andrew Zitel.
DUKE 4, WVU 0: Sophomore Bryce Jarvis threw eight strong innings in a duel against Big 12 pitcher of the year Alek Manoah, and Duke beat West Virginia 4-0 Saturday night to move one win away from capturing an NCAA Tournament regional for the second straight season.
The third-seeded Blue Devils (33-25) made the most of four hits against the Mountaineers to advance to Sunday's championship game. They'll meet the winner of the day's elimination matchup between second-seeded Texas A&M (38-22-1) and No. 1 West Virginia (38-21).
Jarvis (5-1) scattered six hits, struck out 11 and walked one. He threw 126 pitches. Manoah (9-4) struck out nine and walked four in six innings.
Michael Rothenberg hit a run-scoring triple in the first and scored on a wild pitch. In the third, Manoah walked the bases loaded.
Joey Loperfido beat out a throw to home on an infield grounder, and Chris Crabtree followed with a run-scoring single for a 4-0 lead.