Pen Bullied

West Virginia's season is a reoccurring nightmare.

The Mountaineer bullpen once again blew a tight game, allowing eight runs in the final two innings as WVU squandered another excellent start in a 9-2 loss to No. 18 Oklahoma State. Starter Sean Carley threw seven innings of one-run ball, allowing eight hits and striking out six while exiting in a 1-1 game after 127 pitches. But, as was the case with ace Harrison Musgrave during Friday's 6-0 defeat, the bullpen couldn't maintain even a semblance of solid pitching.

Corey Walter came on in relief and promptly allowed four runs on two hits to take his fourth loss of the season. A pair of the runs were unearned, a result of a two-base overthrow of third base into the Mountaineers' dugout. That put Oklahoma State ahead 5-1, and essentially sealed West Virginia's sixth loss in a row – the most ever under second-year head coach Randy Mazey. Chad Donato and Trevor Simms combined to pitch the ninth, allowing four earned runs with Simms responsible for three runs on five batters faced.

Carley walked four and allowed just one extra base hit over 34 batters faced in lowering his ERA to 2.73. The right-hander mixed his changeup well, using it to lessen the impact of a tight strike zone and getting a pair of strikeouts via the pitch. OSU counterpart Tyler Buffet (1-0) went 4 2/3 innings, allowing one run on six hits and striking out three over 22 batters, but benefitted from a much better support as reliever Blake Battenfield held West Virginia scoreless until the ninth inning.

WVU (16-14, 2-5 Big 12) plated its lone meaningful run with three straight two-out singles by Taylor Munden, Bobby Boyd and Billy Fleming in the third. The run snapped 11 consecutive scoreless innings for the Mountaineers and was just the second run in the last 18 innings dating to the 8-4 loss to Penn State on Tuesday. The Mountaineers scored in the ninth inning on defensive indifference during a double play attempt.

West Virginia has now scored three runs in its last four Big 12 games. The Mountaineers had numerous opportunities, leaving 12 runners on base – five over a period of two innings in the fifth and sixth frames. The Mountaineers' best chance came when Cam O'Brien and Munden reached on singles to start the fifth inning. Boyd then bunted out of the leadoff spot to move the two into scoring position. That brought up Fleming, who popped out before the Cowboys intentionally walked Ryan McBroom to load the bases with two outs for Jacob Rice. OSU then brought in Battenfield, who got Rice on a routine groundout to first.

Munden and O'Brien both had three hits and a run scored. Boyd was two-for-four with an RBI while Fleming recorded the other RBI.

Oklahoma State (25-10, 7-4) has now won four in a row and eight of their last nine to move into a second-place tie with TCU in the Big 12 standings. Both teams are a game behind Texas; WVU is in 8th, a half-game ahead of last-place Kansas. OSU put at least one runner on in the first six innings, and loaded the bases in the third on two singles and a hit by pitch. Carley induced a comebacker to escape, however, and the teams remained scoreless. First baseman Tanner Krietmeier went five-for-six with one RBI and a run scored for the Cowboys. Centerfielder Saxon Saulyer and short stop Donnie Walton both chipped in a pair of hits in five at-bats while scoring twice as the top of the order trio banged out nine of OSU's 13 hits. Walton finished with a game-best three RBI.

Oklahoma State was primed to answer in the sixth inning, putting runners on second and third after a single and double with one out. Carley, as he has for much of the season, beared down again to strike out Tim Arakawa on three straight pitches before getting Craig McConaughy to pop out to third to end the threat. The Cowboys tied the game at one after again loading the bases in the seventh inning when Carley walked pinch hitter Garrett Williams. Zach Fish flew out to deep short to end the threat.

West Virginia tries to salvage the series finale on Sunday at 1 p.m. John Means will not start; the left-hander is recovering from a triceps strain and is being held out as a largely precautionary measure and because he missed a recent bullpen session. Mazey did not officially announce a starter, though left-hander Zach Bargeron (1-1 with a 9.37 ERA in nine appearances and three games started) is being heavily considered. Mazey noted his team could use as many as five pitchers in the game.


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