The Mountaineers (7-7) led 3-1 in the sixth inning, but recorded just one more hit the rest of the way against UT ace Parker French as the right-hander stifled WVU for much of his nine innings. Texas, conversely, seemed to get stronger against WVU reliever Blake Smith, and finally broke through when Marlow doubled and scored off the fly to deep center to hand West Virginia its second extra inning loss in as many games this season.
WVU, looking for its second win over a top 25 team this season, had a chance to take the lead in the ninth inning after Cam O’Brien’s one-out single. But designated hitter Kyle Davis laced a shot back to the mound for a double play to end the inning and set Texas up in the bottom half against a tiring Smith. The junior, who came on for starter Connor Dotson after he went six solid innings in his first career start, had labored in the eighth inning and immediately faced a jam in the ninth when Taylor Munden’s throwing error on Ben Johnson’s infield single put him into scoring position. But Smith stranded him at third after a fly out and a critical pop out by clean-up hitter Tres Berrera.
Smith, however, couldn’t escape Marlow’s leadoff double to start the 10th inning, and Texas (12-6) eventually pushed him across via tag-ups after a pair of flyouts. Smith (2-1) took the loss, allowing two runs in 3.2 innings pitched. Dotson was excellent, scattering five hits over six innings and allowing just two runs in his first starting role after a series of sturdy relief performances and a 1.86 ERA. UT’s Kirby Bellow (1-1) got his first win of the season, setting WVU down in order in the top of the 10th. French allowed three runs, two earned, as the Mountaineers managed just seven hits, led by a pair of 2-for-4 performances by Munden and Brad Johnson.
Munden scored a run, while Johnson had two RBI, one on a triple. The two were at the heart of West Virginia’s offense as the Mountaineers led 3-1 after their half of the sixth. WVU scored two runs on two hits that inning largely because of Munden and Johnson – and multiple Texas errors by the left side of the infield. After Munden singled and advanced to second on a throwing error by the short stop, UT third baseman Bret Boswell threw past the first on Justin Fox’s sac bunt, allowing Fox to move to second as Munden scored.
Jackson Cramer then grounded out, pushing Fox to third and setting up Johnson’s RBI single to right. Marlow then hit a solo homerun in the bottom half to pulled Texas within a run at 3-2. That left Dotson in a position for the win until Hinojosa tied the game with his homer to left.
West Virginia took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Johnson drove home Cramer on a triple to right. Texas answered in the third when Hinojosa tripled after Ben Johnson’s double to tie at 1-1. The Longhorns then loaded the bases in the fifth inning on single back to the pitcher, a walk and a dropped fielder’s choice. That error, the second of the inning, put Dotson in a difficult spot before he induced a fly out to center to end the threat.
Three Texas players had multi-hit games, including Hinojosa and Marlow. Hinojosa had a triple, home run and two RBI, while Marlow had a game-tying solo shot and the double that eventually became the game-winning run as the Longhorns took the opening game of the series for the first time in three seasons. WVU has won each of the previous two series two games to one. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Mountaineers.
West Virginia will start staff ace Ross Vance on Saturday as it tires for the split. Vance (2-1) has a 2.16 ERA in four starts, striking out 26 in 25 innings. Chad Donato (2-2) will pitch Sunday. Donato has a team-best 1.44 ERA, and, like Vance, picked up a win in last weekend’s sweep of East Tennessee State. Game times are 6 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.