The Mountaineers, lackadaisical following a weekend series win over Texas to close the 43-year-old Hawley Field, never led until stunning Hokies' ace Sean Keselica for a pair of runs in bottom of the eighth inning to take a 4-3 victory in Princeton, W.Va. and move to 6-0 against ACC teams this season.
Leading 3-2, Virginia Tech head coach Patrick Mason turned to Keselica, his Friday night starter, to try and steal a game from a far superior foe. The move backfired, as the lefthander, making his first relief appearance of the season on just four days rest, hit Cam O'Brien and then gave up back-to-back doubles to Ryan McBroom and Jacob Rice that plated O'Brien an tied the game at 3-3. After the junior intentionally walked Brad Johnson to set-up the double play with one out, Justin Fox made the hustle play of the game, beating out a fielder's choice grounder to third in which Tech failed to turn two as McBroom plated the winning run.
The turn of events had to stun the Hokies' skipper, who, in addition to inserting Keselica on short rest, made four other position moves to try and solidify his defense for the final three outs. It didn't matter, as WVU, winners of nine of 10, plated the pair of runs and sent Sean Carley to the mound in the ninth inning for the save. Carley set down the VT in just four hitters for his third save of the season and Tech's 11th loss in a dozen games.
"The teams energy was low, but that's the kind of thing you have to battle through," West Virginia head coach Randy Mazey said. "We have guys that can come in and produce and that's what good teams do."
Including midweek starter Corey Walter. The senior, a Friday night starter for WVU during the 2012 season, pitched effectively in his second straight midweek start. The right-hander, who picked up the 10-3 win over Marshall on April 23, found his offspeed location in the fourth inning and battled through seven full, allowing two runs, both earned, on nine hits. He struck out four and walked two in leaving with a no decision. Ryan Tezak (4-0) pitched the eighth, and, despite allowing the go-ahead run, picked up the win. Keselica (3-4) took the loss.
Billy Fleming, McBroom and Rice led West Virginia (27-17) with a combined seven hits from their 3-4-5 spots. Fleming went 3-for-4 with a huge run scored. The second baseman, as fundamentally sound as any WVU player, turned a routine single into a one-base error in the sixth inning to tie the game. The junior roped a shot to left that was bobbled by Tech's Phil Sciretta and, hustling out of the box, saw the mishandle and was able to slide safely into second to set-up the RBI single to center by Rice for the 2-2 tie.
Rice went 2-for-4 with two RBI and one double. McBroom was 2-for-4 with an RBI and the winning run scored. Sciretta, besides bobbling Fleming's hit, was a one-man wrecking crew for the Hokies (19-28-1). The sophomore went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored to account for every VT run. Virginia Tech actually outhit West Virginia 11-10, but left one more runner on with eight to the Mountaineers' seven.
Virginia Tech starter Aaron McGarity (0-4) took a no-decision. The freshman mixed his offspeed stuff with excellent late fastball movement in going went 6 2/3 innings while allowing two runs, one earned, on eight hits with six strikeouts and a walk. WVU was never able to get many quality swings on McGarity save a foul ball by O'Brien that just avoided becoming a homer by hooking outside the right foul pole and a seventh-inning liner by Shaun Wood that reached the warning track. McBroom's double in the eighth inning off Keselica hit off the top of the fence.
The teams were tied 2-2 after six innings. Virginia Tech had a three one-run leads, scoring in the top of the second, sixth ad eighth innings, with WVU answering in bottom of the fourth, sixth and eighth. Tech plated its first run via Ricky Surum's single to left on a 3-1 pitch to score Sciretta. McBroom tied it for the Mountaineers on a single through the left side to bring in O'Brien. Tech answered with Sciretta's single to center, only to see Fleming make the leftfielder play in the bottom half with his hustle play to tie the game and set-up the heroics.
A sold-out crowd of 2,084 attended, the majority of which were Mountaineer fans. WVU centerfielder Bobby Boyd, who leads the team with a .376 batting average, sat out the game due to a minor injury. West Virginia, which has beaten Tech twice in a row, now travels to Kansas for a Big 12 series from May 9-11. Friday's game will start at 7 p.m., Saturday's game will begin at 3 p.m. and Sunday's finale is scheduled for a 2 p.m. start. All times are Eastern.