West Virginia University's Matt Frazer has experienced triumph and heartbreak at Appalachian Power Park.
On Tuesday evening in front of family members and friends, the former Nitro High School standout experienced the sweetest of moments, smacking his first collegiate home run in helping the Mountaineers to a come-from-behind 13-11 victory over Eastern Kentucky in the Mountaineer Diamond Classic. A paid crowd of 1,259 was announced, but the sea of blue and gold was closer to 2,000 in WVU's second straight year playing in the Capital City.
Anthony Ottrando belted a grand slam in the top of the first inning to stake the Colonels (17-15) to a 4-0 lead on the 11th pitch of the game. Dom Hayes' run-scoring groundout in the bottom of the first put WVU on the board and two batters later, in his first at-bat, Frazer sent a moon shot over the Ramada sign in right field and onto Morris Street to close to 4-2.
"It was a great feeling,'' said Frazer, who led Nitro to the Class AAA state championship in 2008 and a tough 7-6 loss in last year's title game. "It just happened. I wasn't looking for anything.
"I was going up there and trying to be relaxed at the plate and having fun. Regardless if I hit a home run or not it was awesome. To play in front of the home crowd, everybody knows you. Chase [Pickering], [Grant] Buckner and me, we all had fans here.''
Frazer put the final nail in the comeback with a run-scoring single in the bottom of the seventh as the Mountaineers plated two runs to take the lead for good at 13-11. Hayes' one-out RBI double put WVU (16-17) ahead for the final time at 12-11 two batters before Frazer's turn at the plate.
"We're very fortunate to be able to win that game,'' said WVU coach Greg Van Zant, a Williamson native. "Before we even get settled in we're down 4-0. I thought it was big we bounced back in the bottom of the first and scored a couple of runs. It was a total team effort.''
Frazer, who has played numerous times at the APP in the state tournament and American Legion, finished 3-for-4 with a pair of singles, a solo homer, three runs scored and two RBIs. He reached base on four of his five plate appearances and upped his batting average to .312.
"We've got to play more games here,'' said Van Zant. "He looked pretty comfortable.
"I'm not surprised. Matt's a really talented kid. When you jump from any level of high school baseball to Division I, it's such a big jump. Everything's faster, bigger, stronger.