Carpenter pulled a 3-0 breaking ball over the left field wall, ruining Myers’ shutout in the eighth inning and giving No. 23 Oklahoma just enough offense to win the first ever Big 12 game held at Mon County Ballpark. It was bittersweet for Myers and the Mountaineers, who had just two hits and couldn’t pull the upset in a battle of the league’s top two offense teams that turned downright defensive for the majority of the game.
Myers (2-2) took the hard luck loss with 7.2 innings pitched and the two earned runs off five hits, along with 10 strikeouts and four walks. He was masterful through six innings, using a wicked offspeed pitch to allow just two hits while striking out nine over the first 20 batters. The lanky right-hander froze one OU hitter, and got eight others on flailing swings with the offspeed in the mid-70s, a contrast to his upper-80s fastball. His location and feel for both pitch selection and speed were exceptional, as was his pacing and control of the at-bats.
“That was as good a pitched game as I think we have had this season,” said WVU head coach Randy Mazey, whose team lost its second straight after winning 12 of 14. “For him to go out there against the number one team in the league and strikeout out 10 and really keep them off balance, I am not leaving this game discouraged that we lost, I am leaving this game super encouraged by the performance by BJ.”
Myers was more than matched by OU counterpart Jake Elliott, however, who carried a two-hit shutout into the eighth inning to pick up his first Big 12 win of the year. Elliott (4-3) went 7.1 innings, allowing hits only to Justin Fox and Jackson Cramer while striking out eight in lowering his ERA to 2.38. Neither team generated much offense over the first six innings, when the starters allowed just two hits each. Myers set down the Sooners in order in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th with nine strikeouts against no walks. The freshman had faced just two more than the minimum to that point, while Elliott kept pace with three innings in which he set down the Mountaineers in order, and two more where WVU had just four players come to the plate.
“Once he settled into that change-up he made it really hard on us,” Mazey said. “He’s the Friday night pitcher on the number one team in the league for a reason. We had a couple opportunities early and they made some really good pays defensively. The second baseman and first baseman on Shaun Wood that cost us a run. Against a great team runs are few and far between, and we didn’t take advantage.”
Oklahoma, meanwhile, had just one player reach scoring position, that being Carpenter after the leadoff hitter singled to open the game, then reached second on a sac bunt and third on a ground out. He was stranded after Myers’ first strikeout of the game.
“I stuck to the plan,” Myers said. “The scouting report was that they chase the breaking ball. That fit my strength, right into what I do best. I’m not worried about the offense. I just do my thing. I gave us a chance to win and it didn’t work in my favor. I did the best I possibly could and two runs beat us.”
The first sign of true trouble after that came in the seventh, when Myers got two quick outs, then issued his first free pass of the game on a full count ball. He then got behind 3-1 against left-handed hitter Robert Tasin, causing head coach Randy Mazey to issue the intentional walk to set-up a force at every base. Myers then struck out catcher Chris Shaw on three pitches, the last two his trademark breaking stuff to strand two and bring the ballpark some energy going to the stretch.
The Mountaineers (21-14, 4-6) had a chance in the bottom half, when Ray Guerrini was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a groundball to first during his steal attempt. But KC Huth’s flyout to center ended the inning and sent Myers out for the eighth, where he allowed the 2-0 OU lead after a single and Carpenter’s homer to left after he sat on the offspeed pitch.
“I went with the breaking ball because that’s what I had been doing all night long,” Myers said. “I left it up and didn’t hit my spot as well as I wanted to. It was a 3-0 breaking ball. They don’t swing at that stuff too often.”
Carpenter finished 2-for-4 with the two RBI for Oklahoma (25-15, 9-4), which remain atop the Big 12 with the win. The homer was carpenter’s seventh of the season, leaving him one behind Munden for the conference lead. Tasin had a pair of hits and a walk for the Sooners. Cramer and Fox recorded the lone hits for the Mountaineers, and Guerrini struck out three times. West Virginia left six on base to OU’s seven. Jacob Evans pitched the ninth for his fifth save.
“Both teams had two hits for five, six innings,” Cramer said. “(BJ) was cooking pretty good. Two runs should win you a ballgame. We have (Ross) Vance coming out tomorrow. I hope to see the same type of game from him.”
The series continues Saturday with a 4 p.m. first pitch. WVU is slated to start Vance, the ace. The junior left-hander is 5-2 with a 2.79 ERA and has been outstanding in his last two starts. Oklahoma counters with Alec Hansen (4-4, 3.40 ERA), a power pitcher who has hit 100 on the gun this season.