WVU Drops Series With Texas

West Virginia hit the ball hard on several occasions and got a good starting outing from Chad Donato, but key mistakes allowed Texas to cruise to a 5-1 Big 12 baseball victory in Austin on Sunday.

A pitchers' duel unfolded over the first six innings, with Mountaineer starter Chad Donato and Texas starter Chad Hollingsworth trading scoreless frames. Donato allowed three hits over the first two innings, but then retired nine in a row. Hollingsworth saw the Mountaineers rip the ball hard, but often right at fielders, as he kept the Mountaineers blanked. WVU's best threat in the first five came in the fourth, when it put runners on second and third, but a groundout ended the threat.

After West Virginia failed to advance Taylor Munden from second base with no outs in the top of the sixth, Texas (13-7, 2-1) produced in a similar situation. A single, a successful sacrifice bunt and a double plated the first Longhorn score. Following a strikeout that put WVU (8-8, 1-2) one out away from ending the rally, successive Texas singles, compounded by a fielding error, scored two more runs to give the Horns a 3-0 lead.

West Virginia, after hitting the ball hard but getting nothing for it over the first six innings, got on the board in the top of the seventh when Shaun Wood smoked a fastball completely out of the park in right field. That cut the lead to 3-1, but the Horns responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning to push their lead to four.

Again, it was West Virginia mistakes that allowed the Horns to put runs on the board. An apparent indifferent play on a fly ball to left allowed the ball to fall to the turf, loading the bases. A sacrifice fly brought one run home, and then a misplayed pickoff effort let UT pad its lead to four. On the latter, relief pitcher Jeff Hardy executed a perfect third-to-first move to hang the runner out, but West Virginia first baseman Jackson Cramer didn't notice Texas runner Zane Gurwitz breaking from third. He threw to second to continue the pickoff play while Gurwitz scampered down the line, scoring before the Mountaineers could apply the tag for the third out.

Donato deserved a better fate after pitching six fine innings in which he allowed just two earned runs on seven hits while striking out four and walking none. He threw 89 pitches while being tagged with the loss. Reliever Nick Wernke had location problems, allowing UT's final two runs while walking two of the three batters he faced. On a bit of a bright note, relievers Hardy and Jordan Sergent combined for 1.2 scoreless innings, perhaps providing a bit of a confidence boost for future outings.

"Chad did everything he needed to do," WVU head coach Randy Mazey said. "We could have had three or four runs for him with the way our at-bats were going.

As noted, West Virginia did hit the ball hard, but couldn't string enough hits together to dent the plate. Cramer had two of WVU's seven hits. but the Mountaineers were able to muster only one for extra bases -- Wood's solo homer. Munden was his usual pesky self, getting aboard twice in the leadoff spot via a walk and a hit.

"We had a lot of good at bats, and we hit a lot of balls right at them," Mazey concurred. "I know everybody says that."

West Virginia returns home to play what would have been its first game in Monongalia County Ballpark, but construction delays have pushed that game, now scheduled against Akron, to Consol Energy Park in Washington, Pa. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.


Bad blood between the two teams was evident for much of the weekend, and continued even after Sunday's finale. Over-the-top fist pumps and some postgame words punctuated the contest.

While Mazey didn't comment on the confrontations directly, he did not that he told his team "I'd rather be in our huddle than theirs", and that he was proud of his team for "not talking across the dugouts".

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