Missed Chances

West Virginia's inability to capitalize in scoring situations wasted an excellent pitching effort from Mountaineer starter Chad Donato as WVU dropped a 3-0 decision to Oklahoma State on the opening day of the Big 12 Championship.

West Virginia put seven runners aboard in the first four innings against Oklahoma State, but could bring none of them home as a season long struggle to produce in scoring situations doomed the Mountaineers to defeat. WVU put runners on second and third in the first, third and fourth innings, and had another runner on third in the second, but every time the Cowboys came up with the out they needed to keep the Mountaineers off the board.

"That was the whole game, WVU head coach Randy Mazey said afterward. "You can't do that. We made four errors you can't do that. I thought we had some good at bats and didn't come through when we needed to.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys were able to break through against Donato in the third, as Corey Hassell singled, stole second, then came around to score on Donnie Walton's hit. WVU right fielder Shaun Wood hesitated ever-so-slightly before throwing the ball to the plate, which gave Hassel just enough time to beat the throw. That slight miscue counterpointed a WVU baserunning glitch in the top of the first, when Kyle Davis stumbled at third while attempting to tag up on Taylor Munden's should-have-been sacrifice fly to right. Instead, Davis was stranded, setting the tone for a frustrating night with runners in scoring position.

The Cowboys added a run to their lead in the bottom of the fourth when Dustin Williams led off the inning with a solo home run to right, and Walton added an insurance run with another leadoff homer in the bottom of the eighth.

West Virginia's promising start was short-circuited when Cowboy starter Conor Costello, who was touched for six hits in the first four innings, was replaced by Trey Cobb, who pitched a perfect five innings of relief in retiring 15 consecutive Mountaineers. Cobb had five strikeouts and ten groundball outs as he totally throttled WVU at the plate. That was enough to trump Donato's gutty outing, in which he struck out ten batters in seven innings while allowing three earned runs on seven hits and one wall. Donato was also hurt by three WVU errors while he was on the mound. While those bobbles didn't lead directly to any runs, they did elevate his pitch count to a final total of 123.

"That's the best hes pitched since hes been a Mountaineer," Mazey said. "He obviously pitched well enough to win, but we gave him absolutely no support."

Kyle Davis had two of West Virginia's six hits. WVU left seven runners on, and managed just one walk against OSU pitching. The Mountaineers committed four errors while the Cowboys played a clean game defensively.

West Virginia must shake off the loss quickly, as the Mountaineers will now face Oklahoma in an elimination game at 1:30 p.m. Eastern on Thursday. The Sooners were 7-3 losers to Kansas State in the game played just prior to the WVU - Oklahoma State contest. Ross Vance is scheduled to take the mound for the Mountaineers.


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