WVU Eliminated by Baylor

After West Virginia's 9-4 loss at the hands of Baylor knocked the Mountaineers out of the Big 12 Conference championship, head coach Randy Mazey pointed to an old adage usually used by boxers.

"Don't leave (your fate) in the hands of the judges," he said.

By not picking up another win in Oklahoma City, that's just what West Virginia has done as it sits on the bubble heading into next Monday's NCAA tournament selections. Defensive miscues and not being able to get timely hitting when it needed to doomed the Mountaineers Friday - much like it has throughout most of WVU's final 10 games of the season, a stretch in which it won just one game.

For the fourth time this week, the Mountaineers gave up at least four runs in an inning in the game's seventh inning when Baylor was able to get to WVU starter Ross Vance for five runs to break open a 2-2 ballgame.

"I didn't have my stuff today," Vance said. "It's the end of the year, a couple mistakes will hurt you, and a couple mistakes hurt me. It didn't seem like anybody had it too much today."

West Virginia seemed in charge early Friday afternoon, as Billy Fleming got the game started with a solo home run to left field to give the Mountaineers a 1-0 lead. But they weren't able to get much more going after that, as Baylor freshman starter Nick Lewis got going and turned in a strong performance in just his third career start.

After Fleming's home run, Lewis retired 13 of the next 15 batters he faced – only allowing baserunners on a walk and hit batter. While the Bears' starter was doing this, the offense was able to generate a couple of runs on two solo home runs in the fourth and fifth innings off the bats of Brett Doe and Aaron Dodson to take a 2-1 lead against the Mountaineers.

WVU tied it back up in the sixth after Taylor Munden walked before stealing second and advancing to third on an error by the catcher. He was driven in by Bobby Boyd a few pitches later to make it 2-2.

"We just tried to focus on ourselves and what we need to do to win games," said first baseman Ryan McBroom. "Obviously we didn't do that today, but that's part of the game. You're not always going to score 10 runs every game."

The going got tough from there for WVU, as the Bears emerged with their big inning in the next frame. Baylor used three hits, two walks, a hit batter and two Mountaineer errors to come away with five runs, and picked up two more insurance runs on a two-RBI triple that made it over Shaun Wood's head in the eighth inning.

West Virginia was able to strike for two more runs in the ninth on a single by Ray Guerrini and a sacrifice fly by Justin Fox, but it wasn't nearly enough to mount the comeback against the Bears and avoid elimination from the tournament.

Jacob Rice was 2-for-4 with a double and was the only WVU player to finish with more than one hit.

The Mountaineers now await the NCAA tournament selection coming on Monday. WVU heads into it with a 28-26 record, but with an RPI that Mazey predicted should still be in the top 40 following the loss to Baylor.

In the last 10 NCAA tournaments, only four teams have earned at-large bids with less than 30 wins.

"We're very deserving," Mazey said. "I sure hope this isn't our last game, because this would make for a pretty long summer with the way we played today."

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