Mountaineers defeat Grand Canyon to advance to regional finals

TUCSON, Ariz. – For the first time since 2017, the West Virginia University baseball team advanced to an NCAA regional final as the Mountaineers defeated Grand Canyon 5-2 on Saturday night at Hi Corbett Field. Overall, WVU is now 35-22 on the season, while the Lopes fall to 35-24.

Unlike 2017, when WVU advanced through the losers’ bracket to reach the regional finals, this year’s team is 2-0 and needs to win just one more game to make its first Super Regional appearance in program history. First pitch on Sunday is scheduled for 9:00 PM ET/6:00 PM MST against the winner of tomorrow afternoon’s game between Grand Canyon and Dallas Baptist. The TV network has yet to be determined.

Junior Tyler Switalski saved his best start of the season for Saturday when he pitched 7.2 innings, allowing one run on six hits while striking out three. Graduated student Hambleton Oliver allowed one run in an inning of work for the sophomore Carson Estridge earned his fourth save by hitting one crucial out in the ninth.

On the plate, Brodie Kresser went 2-for-3, three with three RBI and a run scored. Senior Reed Chumley added a goal and scored two points for the Mountaineers

The Mountaineer defense also shone brightly, turning three double plays and a few highlight reels, most notably a fly ball by junior first baseman Grant Hussey in the seventh inning when he fell into the WVU dugout.

After Grand Canyon took the lead with a run in the second, Kresser tied the game in the bottom half with an RBI single with two outs. The Iowa native gave the Mountaineers the lead a few innings later with a two-run single in the fourth.

Sophomore Ben Lumsden kept the line moving in the fourth inning with an RBI single, aided by a bad hop in the infield, before sophomore Skylar King won a point with a fielder’s choice.

Switalski got through the fifth, sixth and seventh with relative ease, but allowed a pair of singles in the eighth, bringing Oliver out of the bullpen. Grand Canyon’s Tyler Wilson sent the second pitch he saw from the right-hander deep to right, but Lumsden had just enough room on the warning track to make the catch.

The Lopes didn’t go down quietly in the ninth as they scored a run and loaded the bases with two outs, but Estridge sealed the victory by getting his only batter of the night to ground out to the shortstop.

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