WVU Ousts Tech; Rematch With TCU Set
The West Virginia University baseball team kept its season alive with a 12-4 victory over third-seeded and No. 6-ranked Texas Tech on Friday night at the 2018 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship, at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, in Oklahoma City.
The Mountaineers (29-26) advance to their third consecutive Big 12 semifinals with the win and improve to 3-0 all-time against the Red Raiders (39-17) in the postseason tournament. WVU is one of two teams to advance to the Big 12 Championship semifinals in each of the past three seasons.
In a win-or-go-home contest, WVU scored 12 runs, tied for the most in program history in a Big 12 Championship game, on 15 hits and held TTU to four runs on seven hits. Seven of West Virginia’s 12 runs were unearned, thanks to five Texas Tech errors. Every Mountaineer starter had at least one hit, four drove in at least one run and seven scored a run.
“In a situation like this, you need some heroes,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “We had two of them in (senior right-handed pitcher BJ Myers and junior right fielder Darius Hill). What they did tonight as a group, collectively, was pretty special. It was nice for BJ to go out there and get a record. We’ve had baseball at West Virginia for around 130 years now, and to get a career record says something great about you. The way we started doing this Spring Training thing here recently, it helped a lot. For him to go out and do what he’s done the last four times out is pretty special. Hopefully, it wasn’t his last outing. And again, offensively, if you watch us play, you’ll see us make some outs on the bases, but that’s just how we roll. For every out we make, we’ll steal three or four bases doing it. The offensive is clicking pretty well right now.”
The Mountaineers will face sixth-seeded TCU in the semifinals on Saturday, at 1:30 p.m. ET/12:30 p.m. CT. WVU, which is 2-1 at the championship, needs two victories over the Horned Frogs to advance to Sunday’s championship game. TCU, which enters the day with a 2-0 record, needs one win to advance.
Junior left fielder Braden Zarbnisky and sophomore first baseman Marques Inman each had a team-high-tying three hits, while Inman drove in two runs and scored a run and Zarbnisky scored four runs. Hill had two hits, three RBIs and two runs scored.
On the mound, Myers made his second start of the championship. In 4.0 innings, he allowed three runs, two earned, on three hits with two strikeouts and three walks. His 4.0 innings gives him 305.1 in his career, the most in program history.
Sophomore right-handed reliever Sam Kessler earned the victory to improve to 4-0 on the season. In 2.1 innings, he allowed just one hit with three strikeouts and a walk. Kessler entered the game in the fifth inning after three runs had scored, but got a strikeout to halt Texas Tech’s rally and leave two on.
For the second time at the Big 12 Championship, and the 31st time this season, the Mountaineers scored first to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Zarbnisky reached on an infield single to lead off the game before advancing all the way to third on a failed pickoff attempt. He scored on a groundout by junior right fielder Darius Hill.
Texas Tech tied the game at 1-1 in the second on a single that scored one unearned run. However, West Virginia answered right back with four runs in the top of the third to regain a 5-1 lead.
Junior third baseman Andrew Zitel singled, and Zarbnisky followed with a double to put two runners on. Sophomore center fielder Brandon White then singled home Zitel, and Hill followed two pitches later with an RBI single down the right-field line to bring home Zarbnisky. With two outs, freshman designated hitter Tyler Doanes singled to right-center to score White and Hill, as WVU sent nine men to the plate in the inning.
Myers followed with a scoreless bottom of the third, with a pair of strikeouts, and the Mountaineers added three more runs in the fourth to extend their lead to 8-1.
West Virginia’s fourth inning began with two outs, and the three runs came on two hits with the help of two Texas Tech errors. Zarbnisky got it going when he struck out, but reached on a passed ball. A walk to White put two on, and Hill followed with a single to score Zarbnisky. After TTU went to its bullpen, Inman reached on an infield single and advanced to second on a throwing error, allowing White and Hill to score.
A double play helped Myers face the minimum in the fourth, but back-to-back walks to begin the fifth signaled the end of his outing. Freshman right-hander Tristen Hudson relieved Myers and gave up a two-RBI double and an RBI groundout to cut the WVU lead to 8-4. Kessler then came in and got a strikeout to end the inning.
The Mountaineers got a run back in the seventh, again unearned, to make it 9-4. With two outs after a double play, White reached on a fielding error that allowed junior shortstop Jimmy Galusky to score.
Kessler followed with a perfect bottom of the seventh, and WVU added two more, both unearned, in the eighth to extend its lead to 11-4. The first run scored when Doanes reached on a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt, while the second run scored when Galusky reached on a fielder’s choice double play.
In the bottom of the eighth, Kessler gave up a leadoff single, but junior righty Zach Reid came in and got a double play and a strikeout to end the inning and leave a runner on third.
West Virginia added one more in the ninth to make it a 12-4 ballgame. Zarbnisky led off the inning with an infield single and scored on a double to left field by Inman.
Reid allowed a leadoff walk in the ninth, but struck out the next three he faced to complete the win.
Saturday’s game will be broadcast on FOX Sports Midwest, FOX Sports Southwest and FOX College Sports Central. The game also will be available on FOX Sports GO to subscribers. Fans can listen to the game on the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG on various affiliates throughout the state. Fans across the country can tune in to the broadcast online at WVUsports.com and on the WVU Gameday App and the TuneIn Radio App on their mobile device.
NOTES:West Virginia improves to 29-26 on the season … WVU is 10-9 all-time at the Big 12 Championship and 7-4 in the last three years … WVU advances to the Big 12 Championship semifinals for the third consecutive season, one of two teams to achieve the feat … The Mountaineers improve to 3-0 all-time against Texas Tech at the Big 12 Championship, with all three matchups coming with TTU ranked in the top-10 nationally … WVU’s 12 runs are tied for the most by a Mountaineer team in a Big 12 Championship game … West Virginia scored first for the second time this week and the 31st time this season and scored in the first inning for the 22nd time this year … Senior BJ Myers pitched 4.0 innings, which gives him 305.1 in his career, the most in program history … Sam Kessler got the win and improves to 4-0 on the season.