The WVU baseball team made history with a win over Marshall on Wednesday.
The in-state series between West Virginia’s only two Division I athletic programs remains more competitive in baseball than any other sport. In fact, it’s so competitive that the Mountaineers did something that hasn’t been done before in nearly two decades with the recent victory.
This is the first time since 1997 that West Virginia took two games from Marshall in a season.
Maybe it’s the nature of a rivalry game that brings out the best in both teams. In the past few years, this series has been highly contested and decided by only a few runs here or there.
On Wednesday, the Mountaineers needed a five-run seventh inning to topple the Thundering Herd, 9-8. On April 5, the first game of the season series, the WVU baseball team needed a 10th inning to beat Marshall, 5-4.
A flair for the dramatic is never wrong in a rivalry game. It’s actually what West Virginia head coach Randy Mazey expects in this match up.
"“I told the guys before the game started, every single time we’ve ever played Marshall, it’s been like this, it’s been a dogfight,” Mazey said. “They get super fired up for the game and they just happen to have the best team they’ve had since I’ve been here, which is good. That challenges the Mountaineers to play well.”"
The Thundering Herd matched the Mountaineers with a five-run eighth inning. But, WVU relief pitcher Blake Smith kept Marshall at bay in the ninth inning with three strikeouts, no runs and no hits.
Starting pitcher Braden Zarbinsky was also mostly flawless on Wednesday going three innings with only two hits and three strikeouts. He came on in the fourth inning to let BJ Myers throw four innings with three strikeouts and three earned runs.
Jackson Cramer led the Mountaineers at the plate going 3 for 4 with four RBI. Ivan Vera also had a multi-hit game with a single and triple.
Despite the relatively close nature of the baseball series, West Virginia still has a commanding 43-24 lead in the all-time series. Unlike football, this is a series that deserves to remain on through the years.
With the Capital Classic basketball match up likely coming to a close, and the gridiron series long gone, the baseball games between these two schools just make sense. There are so many games that need to be played in a season and the regional travel makes it easy for Marshall and West Virginia to play each other.
The WVU baseball team now has a 21-18 record on the year. The Mountaineers host Baylor for a three-game series this weekend before welcoming another old rival, Virginia Tech, to Morgantown on May 3.