Run Production Key For WVU in OKC

Run Production Key For WVU in OKC

In its last two games of the regular season, West Virginia’s baseball team left 21 runners on base. The result was a total of  just three runs in a pair of losses that sapped momentum heading into the Big 12 Championship. The Mountaineers turned that around on Wednesday, however, scoring eight runs on the strength of some key hits and opportunistic baserunning built on the back of five Oklahoma State errors to snare an 8-5 in their opening game of the tournament at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City..

WVU again used its pitching by committee approach, with BJ Myers getting the win on the strength of three scoreless innings to start the contest. The Mountaineers used six pitchers in the contest, with reliever Braden Zarbnisky getting the final five outs to earn a save.

The seventh-seeded Mountaineers (28-25) took a 3-0 lead in the second, made it 6-0 in the fourth and withstood a rally by the Cowboys (29-23-1), who scored one in the fifth and two in the sixth and seventh to cut the WVU lead to two, at 7-5. WVU added a run in the eighth to secure the win.

West Virginia scored eight runs on 13 hits, while Oklahoma State scored five runs on 10 hits. WVU committed four errors and OSU had five. Both teams scored three unearned runs.

“That was four hours that shaved about 40 years off my life,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “It’s just pressure-packed this time of the year. A game like this, you just have to play well the whole way through. Even if you don’t play well at the beginning, you have to play well at the end. Believe it or not, today is my birthday. I always ask for the same thing every year because it always falls on the conference tournament. I got my wish today; we got a big win. When you play a game like that, as ugly as it is, when the game gets in the last couple of innings, your best players have to step up. That’s what these guys did.”

With the win, WVU advances to play the winner of No. 3 Texas Tech-No. 6 TCU on Thursday, May 24, at 8:30 p.m. ET.

The Mountaineers improve to 9-8 all-time at the Big 12 Championship and 9-6 in Oklahoma City. West Virginia has won its opening game at the double-elimination championship three years in a row and in four of its six seasons in the league.

Sophomore center fielder Brandon White led the team with three hits, while junior right fielder Darius Hill had two hits and two RBIs. Junior catcher Ivan Gonzalez added a hit and two RBIs, and junior shortstop Jimmy Galusky had two hits, an RBI and two runs scored.

Hill was responsible for WVU’s three-run fourth inning, when he reached on a bases-loaded infield single, where an error allowed three runs to score.

On the mound, senior right-handed starter BJ Myers earned the win to improve to 2-2. He allowed no runs on three hits in 3.0 innings and was the first of six Mountaineer pitchers. Junior right-hander Braden Zarbnisky, who started the game in left field, got the save, his second of the year, when he stranded the bases loaded the end the game. He pitched the final 1.2 innings and gave up one hit.

For the 30th time this season, West Virginia scored first, with three runs in the second inning to take a 3-0 lead. Junior second baseman Kyle Gray led off the inning with a single, and freshman third baseman Tyler Doanes was hit by a pitch. A balk followed to put runners on second and third, and Gonzalez singled home both runners. WVU’s third run came when Galusky singled up the middle, scoring Gonzalez.

Myers followed with a 1-2-3 bottom of the second, before both teams left a runner on in the third.

The Mountaineers added to their lead in the fourth to make it 6-0. Galusky, Zarbnisky and White each singled to load the bases with no outs. Hill then reached on an infield single. The throw to first was wild, which allowed all three runs to score.

Sophomore right-hander Alek Manoah relieved Myers to start the fourth and left two runners on. OSU got an unearned run in the fifth on a sacrifice fly to make it 6-1, but Manoah limited the damage after the leadoff runner reached on a throwing error.

WVU got the run back in the top of the sixth to extend its lead to 7-1. Zarbnisky reached on an error to lead off the inning, and another error and balk followed to put runners on second and third. A sacrifice fly scored Zarbnisky.

From there, Oklahoma State added two runs in the sixth to make it 7-3, on an RBI single and a sac fly, both with no outs. Senior righty Shane Ennis relieved freshman right-hander Tristen Hudson on the mound and got a popup and groundout to end the inning and limit the damage to two runs.

OSU trimmed the deficit with two more runs in the seventh to make it a 7-5 game. Both runs were unearned on a fielding error and a throwing error. Sophomore right-handed reliever Sam Kessler got back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.

West Virginia answered with a run in the top of the eighth to extend the lead back to three, at 8-5. Galusky led off the inning with a walk, took second on a failed pickoff attempt and advanced to third on a passed ball. He scored on a wild pitch on ball four to Zarbnisky.

In the bottom of the eighth, with a runner on and one out, Zarbnisky relieved Kessler and got the final two outs of the inning, with a caught-stealing by Gonzalez to junior third baseman Andrew Zitel to end a scoreless frame.

In the ninth, a two-out walk loaded the bases. However, Zarbnisky got a fielder’s choice groundout to end the game.

Thursday’s game will be broadcast on FOX Sports Midwest, FOX Sports Southwest Plus and FOX College Sports Central. The game also will be available on FOX Sports GO to subscribers. Fans can listen to the games on the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG on various affiliates throughout the state. Fans across the country can tune in to the broadcasts online atWVUsports.comand on theWVU Gameday Appand the TuneIn Radio App on their mobile device. Dan Zangrilli and Ernie Galusky will call the action.

NOTES:West Virginia improves to 28-25 on the season and 3-2 at a neutral site … WVU is 9-8 all-time at the Big 12 Championship, 9-6 when it is in Oklahoma City and 2-3 against Oklahoma State … The Mountaineers have won their Championship-opening game in three consecutive seasons and in four of its six years in the conference … West Virginia scored first for the 30th time this season.

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