A long day at the ballpark for West Virginia ended with a bang after the Mountaineers took an 8-7 win in Morgantown over Central Michigan to round the three-game series out with a victory on Saturday.
It may have taken an extra inning to get the win, but freshman shortstop Mikey Kluska made sure it happened. With confidence, he turned an 0-1 inside pitch from righy Grant Frazer all the way over the left field wall, scoring center fielder Victor Scott and himself to edge the Chippewas.
“I was seeing the ball really well all day, I had a hit off that kid before, pretty similar pitches, inside pitches, and it showed up again,” he said. “I did what I did, it felt good.”
That play prevented a Central Michigan sweep of the Mountaineers after WVU fell to the Chippewas earlier that day in the first leg of a double-header. With a shortened lineup, acting coach Steve Sabins had to juggle his pitchers all weekend.
“Anybody who has the ability to bounce back…and that do well pitching two days in a row, they essentially all threw on Friday, because we knew that we were going to have to throw them today at some point, and literally every one of those guys threw,” Sabins said.
Closer Madison Jeffrey got the win for West Virginia after throwing just a third of an inning, but it didn’t quite look like that would be the case early. The Chippewas got hold of starter Skyler Gonzalez during his three-inning outing, scoring five earned runs in the first two.
In total, WVU went through five pitchers, with only Gonzalez, Daniel Ouderkirk and Jacob Watters giving up hits in their stints.
WVU’s offense was active to start the game, putting up a run in each of the first two innings. They tied it up in the third with RBIs from Kluska and Nathan Blasick.
Both teams scored a run in the sixth, ultimately knotting up the contest at six and sending the game into extras.
Even before the walk-off, Kluska was WVU’s biggest offensive performer. He finished 3-for-5 with 4 RBIs, including his game-ending 2-run walk-off.
Ultimately, though, this series came down to West Virginia’s deficiencies in pitching for the weekend. Sabins had to ration his hurlers in order to get through the three-game series, which was difficult — but they still got a victory to close it out.
“We said if we can get Skyler Gonzalez and [game two starter] Jake Carr to eat nine total innings, we had a chance, and we didn’t get that and we still won a game, we just didn’t have enough pitching,” Sabins said.
The Mountaineers are staying home through the month of March, with a pair of non-conference series and the start of Big 12 play against Kansas to boot. They next host Morehead State at Monongalia County Ballpark on Tuesday, with first pitch set for 3 p.m. on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.