Booted

West Virginia wasted a tremendous pitching effort by Harrison Musgrave and an offense that had little trouble with Oklahoma star Jonathan Gray in a 4-3 loss to the Sooners on Friday night.

The Mountaineers capped an evening of mistakes by allowing an unearned run in the eighth and another in the tenth to fall to 10th-rated OU.

Despite facing the Big 12 leaders, West Virginia looked like the better baseball team for most of the evening. Musgrave did not possess his best stuff on this Friday night, but still threw seven full innings of two-run, four-hit baseball and left with a 3-2 lead.

Matt Frazer had two RBI doubles that helped stake the Mountaineers to 2-0 and 3-2 leads. But in the end it was the Mountaineers' inability to make the fundamental plays -- and the commission of blunders at crucial times, that proved to be their undoing. The tough loss came in front of 3,259 fans, the largest crowd to ever see WVU play baseball in the state.

WVU showed no fear against OU starter Gray, getting a hit on the first pitch of the game and tallying two runs in the second. Ryan McBroom led off that frame with a walk. Coach Randy Mazey then sent McBroom on the hit and run, and Billy Fleming ripped a grounder into the hole vacated by shortstop Jack Mayfield to give WVU runners on the corners with no out. Gray then proceeded for four pitches to make Frazer look very bad, but on the fifth pitch he pulled a double down the left field line to score McBroom to give WVU a 1-0 lead. One out later Bobby Boyd hit a flare into left to score Frazer, and WVU went to the third with a 2-0 advantage.

Musgrave, who struck out four of the first six batters he faced, immediately got into trouble in the third. After allowing a leadoff walk, Musgrave plunked the eighth batter, Kolbey Gray. An OU sacrifice bunt moved the runners up, and Mazey decided to intentionally walk leadoff hitter Matt Obreste, who came into the game batting .423, to load the bases.

Oklahoma then gave Mazey a dose of his own medicine, as centerfielder Craig Aikin laid down a perfect bunt to drive in a run. To make matters worse, Aikin beat out the play with no throw as the Sooners cut the lead to 2-1. After Musgrave fanned Max White for the second time in the game, he hit Mayfield with a 3-2 pitch to force in a run tie the game at two.

At this point, Musgrave had thrown 61 pitches through three innings and a complete game was out of the question. However, Oklahoma would not dent the plate again while the Clarksburg sophomore was in the game.

West Virginia got the lead back in the fourth. McBroom reached on an error and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Fleming singled to right, but McBroom had to hold to make sure the ball fell in. Fleming was called out at second attempting to steal, a play that photos showed was clearly incorrect. Frazer then ripped a double into the Sooner bullpen to give WVU the lead back at 3-2.

Musgrave (125 pitches) lasted until the eight inning, when Corey Walter (4-5) came on in relief. He was immediately victimized by poor fielding, as Taylor Munden mishandleded a chopper at short to allow Mayfield to reach first. Two outs later second baseman Hector Lorenzana singled into right field to tie the game.

WVU appeared primed to rally, as Brady Wilson led off the eighth with a single for WVU. Rice advanced him to second on a well executed hit and run for the first out, but Wilson made a critical mental error when he tried to advance to third on a ground ball in front of him. OU cut him down in a rundown to end the scoring threat. It was the third consecutive game that a WVU baserunner has committed this Little League mistake.

In the ninth Billy Fleming singled to lead off the inning off of lefthanded reliever Jacob Evans. Mazey then pinch hit right handed batter Justin Fox for Frazer, who struggles with lefties. Fox failed to get down a proper sacrifice bunt and Fleming was thrown out at second as Fox reached on the fielders' choice. Two outs later Mazey let Fox know his displeasure with his failure to get down the bunt, the second failed sacrifice bunt in the game for WVU.

The top of the 10th was when the wheels really came off for WVU. Sticking with Walter, who was having a nice evening, West Virginia failed to make a play on three consecutive ground balls, which lead to the winning run for the Sooners.

Walter got the loss allowing two unearned runs. Evans got the victory with two full innings of relief.

Following the game, Mazey was clearly upset -- a departure from past losses in which he expressed satisfaction with the way his team battled. His post game interview was terse and short, and for the first time all season he did not make any players available to the media. This was a game WVU should have won, and he obviously was frustrated with seeing a potential first place tie in the league standings slip away.

Game two of the three-game series is set for Saturday, May 4 at 4:00 p.m. at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston. Dan Dierdorff is the expected starter for West Virginia.


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