Texas Two Step

West Virginia recorded another first on Sunday as it defeated Texas 6-3 in ten innings in Austin to take the Big 12 baseball series two games to one.

Granted, the Longhorns aren't having the dominant season they are accustomed to, but for a Mountaineer team fighting to just find its footing in the highly-competitive Big 12, the win and series victory can't be overemphasized.

After winning a 1-0 nailbiter on Friday and getting blown out 12-0 on Saturday, it was difficult to predict how West Virginia would react in one of the toughest venues in college. Texas, which routinely draws several thousand fans per game to UFCU Disch-Falk Field, was 17-7 at home, and featured yet another quality starting pitcher in Nathan Thornhill. However, WVU, showing the grit that has been instilled by head coach Randy Mazey, shook off the Saturday debacle to win its first ever Big 12 road series.

After three scoreless innings, the teams put together a combined six runs over the next 2 1/2 frames, coming out of the stretch again tied at three. WVU opened the flurry in the fourth when Taylor Munden doubled and scored on a fielder's choice, but Texas responded with a triple and a sacrfice fly to tie it up at 1-1.

Jacob Rice put WVU back on top with a solo home run to left field, but again Texas was equal to the task, this time scoring twice in the bottom of the fifth to take a 3-2 lead. West Virginia helped the Longhorn cause mightily with an error, two walks and a passed ball, which brought two runs home with the benefit of only one Texas hit.

WVU then knotted the score back up with a run in its third consecutive inning. Ryan McBroom, Bobby Fleming and Matt Frazer strung together three two-out singles to bring home the tying tally.

Both teams threatened to score over the final two innings of regulation, but relievers Corey Walter (WVU) and Corey Knebel (Texas) worked out of jams with runners in scoring position.

In the top of the tenth, the Mountaineers finally converted with runners in scoring position. Ryan Tuntland walked and stole second, which forced the Longhorns to intentionally walk Ryan McBroom. Fleming then delivered a single to score Tuntland, and after another walk and a strikeout, Rice delivered a huge pair of insurance runs with a single that pushed WVU's advantage to 6-3.

Texas didn't make it easy, however. A walk and a single brought the tying run to the plate with no outs, and sparked the appearance of Mountaineer closer Pascal Paul. He did a masterful job, inducing a pop-up, a routine fly ball and a comebacker to the box for the three outs necessary for the win.

Rice was the hitting star of the day for the Mountaineers, driving in three runs with three hits in five at-bats. Fleming also recorded a three-hit day as WVU piled up 11 knocks against the outstanding Texas pitching staff.

Corey Walter turned in an solid performance in relief of starter John Means to get the win. He allowed just two hits, but did walk five over 4 2/3 innings while striking out four. Overall, West Virginia gave up just four hits to the Longhorns, who have struggled at the plate this year.

WVU, now 22-18 over and 6-6 in the Big 12, completes its road swing with a Tuesday game at Youngstown State, before hosting three consecutive Big 12 series in the state. The Mountaineers face Kansas in a three game set in Beckley before hosting Oklahoma and TCU on consecutive weekends in Charleston.


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