A sensational effort from Penn State’s bullpen and a game-tying run in the ninth inning forced extra innings, but West Virginia prevailed in the bottom of the tenth inning, 3-2, in a non-conference baseball game Tuesday night in PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
After taking over in the fourth inning, six Penn State (7-19) relievers held West Virginia (14-15) to just one hit in the eighth inning for the remainder of regulation. The Mountaineers had a chance to end the game in the top of the ninth inning with a 2-1 lead, but first baseman Alex Manoah was unable to scoop a throw from third baseman Andrew Zitel with two outs, allowing pinch-runner Austin Riggins (Greer, S.C.) to score from second and tie the game at 2-2.
The Mountaineers were retired in order in the bottom of the ninth, and then Penn State loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the 10th, but RHP Sam Kessler (2-0) was able induce a groundout to second base to end the threat.
In the bottom of the 10th, West Virginia right fielder Darius Hill led the frame off with a single up the middle and he was sacrificed into scoring position. Then with two outs, designated hitter Chase Illig doubled to the left gap to plate Hill for the walk-off win.
Prior to the ninth and 10th innings, all of the scoring took place in the first three innings.
West Virginia jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first on RBIs from Hill and Zitel, but Penn State pitching settled in afterwards. RHP Eric Mock (Shillington, Pa.) Mock, making his first start of the season, worked three innings and struck out a season-high five, allowing just the two runs on three hits and three walks. LHP Marko Boricich (Chicago, Ill.) took over in the fourth and struck four in two hitless innings. RHP Conor Larkin (Royersford, Pa.), RHP Bailey Dees (Charlotte, N.C.), LHP Jeff Taylor (Lancaster, Pa.) then combined to keep West Virginia hitless until the eighth inning.
RHP Kyle Virbitsky (Media, Pa.) (0-1) entered with one on and one out in the eighth and promptly surrendered a hit, but he ultimately worked out of the jam, looking runners in scoring position back on a groundout and then ending the frame with a strikeout.
Penn State trailed by just a run going into the ninth thanks to a solo home run by center fielder Jordan Bowersox (Winter Springs, Fla.) in the third inning. Third baseman Connor Klemann (Royersford, Pa.) led the top of the ninth off with a walk, and he advanced to second on a wild pitch before Penn State head coach Rob Cooper pinch-ran for him with Riggins. For the Mountaineers, Kessler then took over for RHP BJ Myers and appeared to have a one-out save when left fielder Braxton Giavedoni (Punxsutawney, Pa.) hit a grounder to third, but a poor throw allowed him to reach and Riggins scored to tie the game.
However, West Virginia was able to break the deadlock in the 10th though for the walk-off win.
Bowersox and catcher Ryan Sloniger (Punxsutawney, Pa.) led the Nittany Lions offensively, as Bowersox went 2-for-5 with the home run and Sloniger went 3-for-5. Penn State held the advantage in hits, 7-6.
Penn State will open a four-game homestand Friday at 6:30 p.m. against Ohio State, with promotional highlights including Dollar Dog Night and Post Game Fireworks. “Wing Wednesday” has moved to Saturday (2 p.m.), while Sunday (1 p.m.) is Military Appreciation Day.