The Mountaineers entered looking to ride the momentum from the come-from-behind victory on Saturday. Instead, 23rd-ranked Oklahoma withstood an early 2-1 deficit to plate five and four runs in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively, in sending WVU to its third Big 12 series loss in four this season. OU starter Robert Tasin went 7.2 innings, allowing just six hits and no earned runs in a dominating performance to move to 7-1. The senior right-hander was pulled only because he topped the 100 pitch mark with two down in the eighth inning.
“That guy’s good,” head coach Randy Mazey said. “He throws everything at the knees and some of it moves toward you and some moves away. The message was you saw what good offensive teams can do and what adjustments they made on the fly. We have to do that.”
West Virginia never generated offense after the 2-1 lead in the first inning, getting just two runners into scoring position over the final eight frames. Kyle Davis was the only Mountaineer with more than one hit, going 2-for-4 with a pair of singles. KC Huth had the lone extra base hit and no WVU player had an RBI, the two runs coming unearned. Oklahoma, meanwhile, pounded out the 15 hits, eclipsing Baylor’s mark of 14 earlier this year in sending Chad Donato to 5-4. Three Sooners had at least three hits, led by a 3-for-4 performance with two doubles and an RBI by Sheldon Neuse. Hunter Haley drove in three runs and Kolbey Carpenter had three hits, giving him seven for the series, along with five runs scored and three RBI.
“I thought after the first inning when we came out and hit the ball well, Chad was really good early in the game and I really liked our chances,” Mazey said. “They made a huge adjustment, with the wind blowing in from left, I think 13 of their 15 hits went to the middle of the field or to right. On days like this we have to do that. If the wind is blowing in it takes some of our power away and we had to adjust just like they were able to do.”
The defeat kept West Virginia (22-15, 5-7) in sixth place in a crowded middle of the pack in the Big 12. First place Oklahoma (26-16, 10-5) went back to 10 games above .500 and became the first conference team to notch double digit league victories in winning its fourth Big 12 series in five. WVU is 1-12 when getting out-hit by foes this season. and has lost three of its last four games overall.
Both teams scored in the first inning. Craig Aiken doubled for Oklahoma, and Anthony Hermelyn followed with an RBI single for a 1-0 lead. West Virginia then plated two when Shaun Wood’s bases loaded single got past second basemen Kyle Mendenhall on a very playable ball. The Mountaineers started the inning with Justin Fox’s single, followed by a pair of walks. That brought up Wood, who drove in both unearned runs for the 2-1 lead.
That was the extent of WVU’s offense in the game, and Donato made it hold up until held the fifth inning, when Oklahoma started sitting first pitch fastball and pounded the right-hander for five runs. Donato got the first out easily, then allowed the next seven batters to reach, two on walks. Four of the five hits came on the first pitch as the Sooners sprayed balls to center and right field for the 6-2 lead. Donato then struck out the final two hitters to get out of that inning, only to get into two out trouble in the next as Oklahoma added on with a pair of runs on Tasin’s two-RBI single to finish Donato, who left down 8-2 after allowing 11 hits.
“I didn’t have any control of my fastball, which is really unlike me.” Donato said. “The curve ball was working, but you can’t win a game on one pitch. In the pen coming in I felt pretty good. I just couldn’t control it today. It’s over; gotta flush it. I honestly feel like I was in there too long, like I should have been pulled earlier.”
Reliever Connor Dotson didn’t fare any better, entering with runners on first and second base and promptly moving them up 90 feet each on a failed pickoff attempt. Haley then drilled a double down the right field line to push the OU lead to 10-2, leaving Donato with 10 runs, nine earned. Dotson then issued a four-pitch walk, followed by a wild pitch to put runners on second and third before the inning mercifully came to an end on a strikeout. The Mountaineers, meanwhile, were hitless over the fourth and fifth innings and went in order twice as Tasin rolled after the first inning in lowering his ERA to 1.41.
West Virginia next plays host to Marshall at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. The Mountaineers then play Kansas at home in a three-game set over the weekend. The Jayhawks are one spot behind WVU’s sixth in the Big 12 standings.