If West Virginia is to make any noise in the Big 12 Baseball Championship, or make the NCAA Tournament as an at-large selection, it's going to have to do a 180 from its current course. The Mountaineers, clearly snake-bitten and downtrodden, suffered their second consecutive series sweep and will limp to Oklahoma City after a desultory loss to the Red Raiders.West Virginia (27-24, 9-14) again was stuck in the rut of putting baserunners aboard, but failing to bring them home. The Mountaineers left seven runners on base, and could not break through against Tech pitchers Dylan Dusek and Dominic Moreno. WVU put runners in scoring position in the first and second innings, and got leadoff batters aboard in the third and the fourth. Several hard-hit balls with runners in scoring position went right at Tech fielders, though, and as a result the Mountaineers left West Texas with no momentum.
"Their pitchers pitched well, and pitched better against us than any team we faced all year," head coach Randy Mazey told IMG College Sports. "They kept the ball down. When we went on the winning streak, those line drives in the outfield were going into gaps. Here they are going right at the outfielders."
Texas Tech got on the board with a solo home run by Adam Kirsch to lead off the second, and added another run in the fourth when Tim Proudfoot drove home Kirsch with a sacrifice fly. The Red Raiders added single runs in the sixth and the seventh to push their advantage to 4-0.Brad Johnson and Michael Constantini combined for four of WVU's six hits. Starting pitcher John Means allowed 10 hits and four earned runs over 6.1 innings of work in taking the loss. Pascal Paul, Michael Bennett and Ryan Hostrander combined for 1.2 innings of scoreless relief.
WVU must now try to rebuild its confidence heading into the Big 12 Baseball Championship, and Mazey wasted no time in beginning that process.
"We just talked to the guys about it being a tale of two seasons," he said, detailing WVU's streaky play since the campaign began in February. "It's time to win a lot again.
"We [will] focus on not focusing on anything that's happened so far," he said of WVU's approach the next three days. "It's a brand new season. Now its season number three. We have put ourselves in a really good position with the RPI in the top 30. How we got here doesn't matter. All we have to do is go out and play well in a place where we have played well and won our last two, one in walk-off fashion. I don't think there is any doubt we will take the field Wednesday morning and play well."
WVU finished sixth in the Big 12 regular season, and will face Kansas on Wed. May 25 at 10:00 a.m. Eastern in the first round of the double elimination Big 12 Baseball Championship. BlueGoldNews.com will be on the scene at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City for coverage.
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WVU will not return home, but will instead travel from Lubbock to Oklahoma City for the tournament.
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WVU did not manage an extra base hit until Cam O'Brien doubled down the right field line in the ninth.