Baseball Drops Series At Texas Tech
The West Virginia University baseball team scored two runs in the ninth inning and brought the go-ahead runner to the plate, but could not score again in an 8-5 loss at No. 7 Texas Tech on Saturday afternoon in Lubbock, Texas.
The Mountaineers (10-14, 1-5 Big 12) took a 3-1 lead in the fifth inning, but the seventh-ranked Red Raiders (23-6, 3-3 Big 12) responded with seven runs in the next two innings. WVU scored two in the ninth and loaded the bases, but a double play ended the game.
In front of a sold-out crowd of 4,432 on a warm, sun-soaked Saturday afternoon at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park, WVU scored five runs on seven hits. TTU, the Big 12’s best offense and No. 1 RPI team in the country, scored eight runs, seven earned, on 10 hits. West Virginia committed four errors in the series finale.
Texas Tech takes an 11-9 lead in the all-time series. West Virginia has won three of the last five in the series, all while TTU has been ranked in the top 10 nationally. Texas Tech, which is averaging nearly nine runs per game, was held to a total of 12 runs in the three-game series.
West Virginia’s offense was led by sophomore Isaiah Kearns, who came off the bench and had a career-high-tying two hits and one RBI. Junior left fielder Braden Zarbnisky drove in two of the Mountaineers’ five runs. Junior third baseman Andrew Zitel also added a hit, an RBI, two runs scored and a walk.
Senior right-hander Shane Ennis suffered the loss and falls to 3-2 on the season. In 1.1 innings in relief, he allowed four runs, three earned, on three hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
Sophomore right-handed starter Kade Strowd allowed one run on four hits in 4.0 innings. He added two strikeouts and did not walk a batter.
The Red Raiders got on the board in the first inning with a run on a throwing error that allowed a runner to score from third after a stolen base. After another single, Strowd got the next two outs and proceeded to retire seven in a row.
WVU got its first baserunner in the fourth, with a walk, but a double play helped TTU face the minimum in the inning. Strowd got a double play of his own in the bottom half to leave one on after a double and a fielding error.
The Mountaineers jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the fifth inning. The frame began with a one-out walk by junior second baseman Kyle Gray. Zitel followed with an RBI double, WVU’s first hit of the day, that tied the game at 1-1. A single by sophomore designated hitter Chase Illig brought home Zitel to give West Virginia its first lead, at 2-1. Back-to-back singles loaded the bases for Zarbnisky, who grounded out to score Illig and extend the Mountaineer advantage to 3-1.
Ennis relieved Strowd to start the fifth. He allowed a one-out walk, but a strike-him-out, throw-him-out double play ended the inning.
Texas Tech regained the lead in the sixth, scoring four runs, one unearned, on four hits with two WVU errors. A two-run home run by Grant Little tied the game at 3-3. With runners on second and third, a throwing error after a strikeout gave TTU a 4-3 lead. The inning’s final run, which was unearned, scored on a two-out single.
Pinch hitting, Kearns singled in the seventh with one out, before TTU added to its lead in the bottom half. A two-out walk and a hit batter put two on for Michael Davis, who hit a three-run home run to make it 8-3.
The Mountaineers put up a fight in the ninth and scored two runs on two hits to cut the deficit to 8-5. Kearns drove in the first run with a single to right field. A walk loaded the bases for Zarbnisky, who also walked to bring home the second run. It was the third walk of the inning for WVU. However, with the tying run on first base, a double play ended the game.
Up next, West Virginia plays its last of seven consecutive games on the road when it travels to Penn State on Tuesday, April 3. The midweek matchup will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network, and first pitch is at 6:30 p.m. ET.
NOTES: West Virginia falls to 10-14 on the season and 1-5 in the Big 12 … Texas Tech holds an 11-9 lead in the all-time series, while WVU has won three of the last five … WVU is 1-2 vs. ranked teams this season … TTU at home … Texas Tech improves to 16-1 at home in 2018 … Shane Ennis suffered the loss, and is 3-2 in 2018 … Isaiah Kearns had a career-high-tying two hits and one RBI, his second multi-hit game in his career … Braden Zarbnisky had a pair of RBIs, his second multi-RBI game of the year and fifth of his career.