WVU Drops Series To Texas
By: Kevin Kinder
West Virginia couldn’t take advantage of three consecutive early inning scoring chances. Texas took full measure of theirs. The result was a 9-4 Longhorn win and a 2-1 series win in the final regular season contest of the Big 12 season.
Texas seized the initiative in its first at-bat. Taking advantage of a pair of walks from WVU starting pitcher Kade Strowd, the Horns loaded the bases for Kacy Clemens, who smacked the second grand slam of his career to give UT a 4-0 lead. Following another walk from Strowd, West Virginia coach Randy Mazey went to the bullpen, bringing in Sam Kessler.
Kessler avoided further damage and finished an excellent relief appearance by allowing just one hit and one walk over three innings while striking out three.
The Mountaineers got one run back in the top of the fourth when Jackson Cramer, after doubling on his first at-bat, turned on the first pitch and drove it deep over the right field wall. The Mountaineers followed with hits from Braden Zarbnisky and Brandon White, but Zarbnisky was caught in a rundown between second and third to end the threat.
One inning later, WVU added another run. After putting the first two batters aboard, a pair of groundouts pushed Kyle Gray across to cut the deficit to 4-2. Then, in the top of the sixth, WVU put up its third run when Cramer scored on a sacrifice fly.
All of those scores, though, came around chances to do much more damage. In each inning, the Mountaineers had multiple runners aboard, but left four runners on. That continued the theme from the first three innings, when the Mountaineers also put a runner in scoring position in each frame, only to miss out on chances to bring them home. West Virginia was an anemic 1-12 (.083) with runners in scoring position, while Texas was a blistering 5-7 (.714)
WVU’s inability to record the big hit and get more runs on the board allowed Texas to extend its lead in the bottom of the six. The Horns added a pair of runs to push the advantage to 6-3, in spite of the fact that the Mountaineers went through three pitchers in the inning.
Those insurance runs proved crucial as Cramer ripped another leadoff homer to right to start off the eight inning, cutting the deficit to 6-4. All became academic, though, when Texas added two more runs in the bottom of the frame to put the game out of reach.
Cramer was 3-3 with the two home runs, a double, two RBI and three runs scored. Braden Zarbnisky and Ivan Gonzalez each had two hits.
West Virginia finished fourth in the Big 12 regular season standings, and will face Baylor in the opening round of the Big 12 Championship on Wednesday.