Mountaineers Can’t Weather The Cowboys, Fall 6-4 In Series Finale
The start time for Sunday’s baseball game at Mon County Ballpark was pushed up to noon to try to get ahead of the severe weather system that was bearing down on the region.
West Virginia got to complete the game, but it wasn’t able to get the victory. OSU overcame a three-run deficit and scored a 6-4 win over the Mountaineers.
WVU was cruising along through the first five innings and held a 4-1 lead. But Cowboy relief pitcher Payton Battenfield came in at that point and stoned the Mountaineer hitters rest of the way. After West Virginia scored four runs on seven hits through the first five innings, Battenfield allowed just four hits in the final four innings and gave up no runs. That provided the Pokes’ offense an opportunity to fight back for the come-from-behind victory, as they used the long ball and a couple defensive errors by West Virginia score three in the sixth and two more in the seventh to leave Morgantown just ahead of the rain with a key Big 12 triumph.
With the win, OSU is now 20-13-1 overall and 9-3 in the Big 12, which at the moment puts it in second place in the league behind only Texas (11-3/24-13). WVU fell to 16-17 overall and 2-7 in Big 12 play, which is eighth in the nine-team conference ahead of only Kansas State (2-9/15-20).
The Mountaineers held an 11-8 advantage in hits, but Oklahoma State got the big ones when it needed them.
“That’s two games in a row that we’ve outhit them,” said WVU head coach Randy Mazey. “I thought we competed pretty well. But we walked five and they walked one, which could have been the difference. The runs they scored in the sixth and seventh were helped by walks. Our relievers have to come in and throw strikes right out of the gate. If they don’t do that, you’re going to get hurt most of the time.”
Things may have ended poorly for West Virginia, but they started off pretty well.
A two-out infield single in the second inning by West Virginia’s Jimmy Galusky plated the first two runs of the game. Marquis Inman sprinted in from third on Galusky’s high-hopper to the shortstop, and Andrew Zitel came all the way around from second and scored on the subsequent bobble that gave the home team an early 2-0 lead.
WVU centerfield Brandon White hauled in diving catch that robbed the Cowboys of not only a hit but also a run in the top of the third, as OSU had a runner on second with two outs. The catch allowed West Virginia to maintain its 2-0 advantage. The Mountaineers immediately added to their lead in their half of the inning. Darius Hill led off with a triple and scored on infield ground out by Inman.
But then Oklahoma State started to fight back.
OSU catcher Colin Simpson led off the fourth inning with an opposite field home run that clanked off the foul pole to cut WVU’s advantage to 3-1. The roundtripper was Simpson’s 11th of the season, which ties him for the lead in the Big 12 Conference.
West Virginia did answer that run, when Kyle Gray ripped a double to the left-center field gap, scoring Hill in the fifth and upping WVU’s lead to 4-1.
But then Simpson struck again. The stocky junior from Edmond, Okla., sliced a double down the right-field line, scoring fellow Cowboy Matt Kroon to trim the Mountaineer lead to 4-2 in the top of the sixth. Two batters later, Christian Funk drove a high fly ball to left that rode the wind well past the fence for a two-run home run that tied the contest at 4-4.
OSU took its first lead in the seventh, as it posted two more runs. They came on successive pitches, as two passed balls got by West Virginia catcher Chase Illig. A Cowboy raced home as each rolled to the backstop, and OSU went on top 6-3.
With Battenfield stifling WVU’s hitters, Oklahoma State’s advantage held up the rest of the way, and the Cowboys took their second win in the three-game series in Morgantown. OSU had claimed a 7-4 victory on Friday, while West Virginia bounced back to take a 10-7 win on Saturday. The Mountaineers had won five-of-six games – each of the non-conference variety – prior to this weekend’s set with the Pokes, but WVU fell for the seventh time in nine Big 12 outings so far this season.
“Our guys have competed pretty well, and I think the toughest part of our schedule is over,” added Mazey, who is 176-144 in his six seasons as West Virginia’s head coach. “We’ve played three of the top four teams in the league now. Hopefully we have an opportunity to get on a roll now and make some noise going down the stretch.”
West Virginia makes its final non-conference out of state road trip on Tuesday, but it will be a short journey. The Mountaineers will travel up I-79 for round two of the Backyard Brawl against Pitt. That game will take place at Cost Field with a first pitch set for 6:00 p.m. WVU crushed the Panthers 12-1 in the front end of the two-game set on April 11.