PITTSBURGH In the first Backyard Brawl at PNC Park, the No. 17 West Virginia University baseball team beat Pitt, 9-4, on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.
The Mountaineers (32-18) won their sixth consecutive game against the Panthers (20-32) and improved to 3-0 all-time at the Pittsburgh Pirates’ ballpark. WVU has won 11 of its last 14 games against Pitt and improves to 109-88 all-time in the series.
The Backyard Brawl victory was fueled by another strong start by junior left-hander Nick Snyder, who held Pitt to one run on three hits with 11 strikeouts and two walks in 7.0 innings. He was backed by an offense that scored nine runs on 13 hits.
“Great win for the Mountaineers,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “I told the guys in the postgame huddle, when you start the season, I tell the team all the time that you want to be playing your best baseball at the end of the year. Everything that you go through during the season – the wins, the losses, the traveling, getting walked off to walking off, learning about your team, shuffling lineups – it’s all really, really valuable experience, and if you learn from it, that’s how you play your best baseball at the end of the year. I think we are right now.
“We wouldn’t be anywhere near where we are this year without these two guys beside me (senior outfielder Darius Hill and Snyder), and I’m just happy to have them in the program and doing as well as they’re doing. But I really like where the Mountaineers are right now.”
Sophomore second baseman Tyler Doanes had a team-best three hits and three RBIs, while Hill had two hits and drove in two runs, both on RBI doubles. Hill’s two doubles give him 73 in his career, tied for the most in program history with Jedd Gyorko (2008-10).
After Pitt took a 1-0 lead in the second inning, West Virginia responded with three runs in the top of the third to take a 3-1 lead. The Mountaineers extended their advantage to 5-1 in the fifth, 6-1 in the sixth and added another three-run inning in the seventh to make it 9-1. UP scored three in the eighth.
Five of WVU’s nine runs came with two outs.
With the win, West Virginia improved to 10-0 in Snyder’s starts, as he earned his fourth quality start of the season and third consecutive. He struck out 10 or more batters for the fourth time this season.
The Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a leadoff home run by Nico Popa, but the Mountaineers came right back with three in the top of the third to take a 3-1 lead. Junior left fielder TJ Lake led off the inning with a double to left-center, and advanced to third on a bunt single by freshman shortstop Tevin Tucker. Doanes then doubled down the left-field line to score Lake, and junior center fielder Brandon White grounded out to bring home Tucker. Hill followed with a double to left-center to plate Doanes.
Snyder followed with a pair of strikeouts to end the third and leave two runners on, and he got a 6-4-3 double play to end the fourth.
West Virginia made it 5-1 in the fifth, with the help of a two-out error. With runners on the corners, sophomore designated hitter Paul McIntosh reached on a fielding error to allow Doanes to score. Senior catcher Ivan Gonzalez followed with a single to left, which scored junior first baseman Marques Inman.
A two-out double by Hill extended WVU’s lead to 6-1 in the sixth, as he brought home White.
The Mountaineers added three more in the seventh to make it a 9-1 ballgame. The first run came on an RBI double by Lake to score Gonzalez. With two outs, Doanes added a two-RBI double to right-center to score junior third baseman Kevin Brophy and Lake.
Snyder struck out the side in the seventh to end his night on the mound. Pitt scored three in the eighth off the Mountaineer bullpen, on a three-run home run by Cole MacLaren.
In the ninth, freshman right-hander Madison Jeffrey took the mound and retired the side to close out the win.
The Mountaineers conclude the regular season at home against George Washington from May 16-18, at Monongalia County Ballpark. The series begins on Thursday, May 16, at 6:30 p.m. ET, and continues on Friday, May 17, at 6:30 p.m. The regular-season finale is slated for Saturday, May 18, at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at WVUGAME.com, by calling 1-800-WVU GAME, during the week at the Mountaineer Ticket Office at the WVU Coliseum or on game day at Monongalia County Ballpark.
Notes: West Virginia improved to 32-18 on the season, 17-13 on the road and 19-7 in non-conference games … WVU has won six in a row against Pitt and 11 of the last 14 games while improving to 109-88 all-time in the rivalry … The Mountaineers are 3-0 at PNC Park and 1-0 at the Pittsburgh Pirates Ballpark in the Backyard Brawl … West Virginia has won five of its last six games … WVU improved to 10-0 in Nick Snyder’s starts … Snyder earned his fourth quality start of the season and third consecutive … Darius Hill had two doubles and has 73 in his career, tied for the most in a career in WVU history with Jedd Gyorko (2008-10).