Pitching Collapse

West Virginia exploded for four runs in the bottom of the first, then watched helplessly as TCU hammered Mountaineer pitching all day for a 16-6 blowout win in game three of the series. With the series loss the Mountaineers likely lost any chance at an at-large NCAA berth.

The Mountaineers started out with zip, perhaps buoyed by their change into camouflage uniforms prior to the game. After starting with a 1-0 deficit, the Mountaineers strung together six straight one out hits in the bottom of the frame to take a 4-1 lead. Brady Wilson started the parade with a single up the middle, Jacob Rice cued an infield single, and Ryan Tuntland singled to drive in Wilson. Ryan McBroom then doubled to drive in Rice and Tuntland. Fleming singled to drive in McBroom and WVU was ahead 4-1 with only one out in the first.

At that point, TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle had seen enough. Starter Andrew Mitchell got sent to the showers and Alex Young came in for TCU ( 25-25, 10-11) to try to quell the rally. That proved to be the deciding move of the game, as Young not only shut down the WVU uprising, but proceeded to allow just one run over the next 6 2/3 innings. Billy Fleming ‘s leadoff triple in the sixth and subsequent run cut the TCU lead to 9-5, but that was the Mountaineers' only tally until a beauty run in the ninth.

While Young shut West Virginia down, TCU proceed to chip away at the lead. The Horned Frogs tied things up in the third with two doubles and a home run, then zoomed past WVU with multiple runs in each of the last five innings. Several of those were aided by Mountaineer miscues on both the mound and in the field.

In the fifth, after allowing a leadoff double to center fielder Cody Jones, Means had fought his way back with a fly ball and an infield pop up. After an intentional walk to Hendrix, first baseman Derek Odell sent a fly ball to straight away center field. Bobby Boyd took three steps in, then watched helplessly as the ball fell over his head for a two run double. Poor pitching and shaky defense also allowed two unearned runs in the seventh, as a throwing error on a two-out grounder to third scored two more TCU runs.

In all, it was a banner day at the plate for the Horned Frogs. After scoring runs in just two of 18 innings on Saturday, TCU scored runs in seven of nine innings on Sunday. The Frogs set season highs for runs and hits (18) and RBIs (14).

Despite the loss, WVU head coach Randy Mazey looked on the bright side. Rather than haranguing his team, he pushed a positive outlook, and noted that the chance is still there to win the league.

"Whoever would have thought that we'd have an opportunity to win the Big 12 championship going in to the last game of the season. I couldn't be prouder right now," he said, relaying the message he gave to his team. "These next few days are going to be pretty important."

WVU starter John Means could never find a groove. He allowed six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings, and his successors fared little better. In all, TCU sent 55 batters to the plate, and racked up eight doubles and two home runs. The Mountaineer staff contributed to the carnage with eight walks and a wild pitch.

It goes back to Pitching 101," Mazey said. "We threw a lot of pitches in there belt high that they hit for either a double or a homer."

For WVU, Rice had three hits in five at-bats, while Wilson, Fleming and Tuntland each had a pair of hits.

WVU returns to action this Tuesday in Beckley, W. Va., where the Mountaineers will face Marshall in Beckley's Linda K. Epling Stadium in the third game of the three-game series. Marshall won the first game in Charleston 8-0 behind ace starter Aaron Blair. WVU blasted the Herd 10-2 in Morgantown behind five Mountaineer pitchers and the hitting of Alan Filauro.

West Virginia rounds out regular season conference play against Oklahoma State this weekend. The Mountaineers are scheduled to face the Cowboys on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

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