Mountaineers knocked out of Big 12 Tournament after defensive battle

Gold and Blue Nation

West Virginia baseball was eliminated from the Big 12 Tournament after losing to top-seeded Texas in a 3-2 low-scoring affair at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City on Friday night.

West Virginia’s pitching did its best to make the Longhorns miss throughout the night, striking out 14 batters and allowing just three hits. The difference, however, came in the free bases allowed to Texas: WVU walked 10 batters throughout the contest, including four leadoff walks to put a Longhorn on base. In fact, Texas’s first run was scored by Trey Kennedy on a bases loaded wild pitch.

That made it quite easy for Texas to score the few times they were able to put the ball in play, including for the game winning 2-RBI double in the sixth inning from Silas Ardoin.

“We just haven’t thrown strikes consistently the whole season, they weren’t any more nervous today than they were all year, we’ve just gotta get back to work and get some guys in the strike zone,” said WVU coach Randy Mazey. “Jake Watters and Madison Jeffrey went out there and beat the heck out of their bats, I thought they didn’t put a ball in play until about nine o’clock [central] I don’t think.”

Watters, normally a bullpen arm, made his first career start and led the army of relievers that took the mound for WVU. He gave three innings of work to the Mountaineers, striking out eight of the 13 batters he faced — but walked four and hit one, giving up a run without allowing a hit. Jeffrey (2-2) took the loss after working for 2.1 innings, giving up all three of Texas’s hits and two earned runs with five walks and a pair of strikeouts.

Offensively, West Virginia logged six hits and stuck right in the game until the final pitch. Matt McCormick put WVU in front in the sixth inning with a 2-RBI single. In the top of the ninth with two outs, the Mountaineers had the tying run on third and the go-ahead at the plate, but the batter — Braden Barry — struck out to end the game.

McCormick went 2-for-4 in the contest, knocking another single in the first inning. Austin Davis also logged a hit to go along with yet another highlight grab in right field — this time, robbing a home run from Mike Antico in the fourth inning.

“A lot of time when you’re not swinging the bats very well and you’ve got nothing going on offense, it really helps to make a great defensive play, everybody runs off the field all excited,” Mazey said. “That momentum just goes from their dugout to ours.”

Hudson Byorick and Braden Barry eached notched doubles to add to the hit total as well.

Pete Hansen (8-1) took the win for Texas after lasting 6.2 innings and striking out nine Mountaineers, while allowing six hits including McCormick’s 2-RBI single. Tanner Witt earned the save after 2.1 innings of work.

Along with Ardoin, Ivan Melendez and Trey Faltine logged the hits for Texas.

West Virginia (25-27, 8-16 Big 12) is officially eliminated from the Big 12 Tournament after taking its second straight loss in the double-elimination competition. The Mountaineers now wait to hear if they get selected for an NCAA Regional; the selection show is scheduled for May 31 at noon ET.

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