Using an early outburst of runs in the first few innings, a solid pitching performance by its starter and closer and a clutch showing in the late innings at the plate, WVU picked up a 5-3 win against No. 11 Texas Friday night.
"This was huge. We feel like we've got good starting pitching left to try to win this series," said WVU head coach Randy Mazey. "Our guys feel like we're better than them, we're playing with that type of confidence right now."
For the second time in a row, Mountaineer starter Harrison Musgrave was strong pitching on his home mound. The Nutter Fort, W.Va., native threw seven innings, allowing three runs - all coming in the seventh inning - and striking out seven batters. Before he allowed his runs in his final inning of the outing, the left-handed pitcher had gone 14 consecutive innings without allowing a run, dating back to his eight shutout innings a week ago against Kansas State.
He has given up just three runs in 16 innings during his career against Texas.
Musgrave was able to get run support early on as he cruised his way through the Longhorn batting order, stopping every spurt of momentum UT would put together.
West Virginia was able to take advantage of two errors and a dropped third strike in the bottom half of the first inning to get ahead early with a 1-0 lead. Bobby Boyd reached base on an error and later scored from second on a Billy Fleming single.
Boyd would come in to score again two innings later on a Jacob Rice single before coming up big with a two-run single of his own in the fourth inning, advancing to third on a throwing error by the Longhorn shortstop.
"That was a good matchup for us. And, of course, when he gets on the bases, he wreaks havoc with everybody," Mazey said.
After working his way through the first six innings pretty easily, Musgrave ran into trouble in the seventh inning. Texas got hits from four of its first five batters in the inning, setting the Longhorns up for a big inning and giving them some much-needed momentum after struggling early on.
Texas got the production it needed from the top three spots in the lineup, as Brooks Marlow, Ben Johnson and Matt Payton all drove in runs on consecutive at bats. The reigning Big 12 Pitcher of the Year eventually settled back down getting a fly ball to centerfield and a strikeout to end the rally with the Mountaineers still clinging to a 4-3 lead.
WVU got that insurance run in the bottom half of the inning, when Cameron O'Brien drove in Ryan McBroom with a single to left field - which was all the Mountaineers needed after handing the ball over to their new closer, Sean Carley.
The junior picked up his second save of the season, shutting the door on the Longhorns for the last two innings. Carley had four strikeouts against the seven batters he faced.
"That's what we were looking for the first half of the season," Mazey said. "It appears that we've rectified that situation a little bit. It's nice to have (Carley) sitting in the bullpen down there."
With the win, WVU moves to 21-2 when scoring five or more runs in a game and have won nine of its last 10 games.
The series continues Saturday at 4 p.m.