Kevin Kinder \ BlueGoldNews.com

West Virginia Drops 1-0 10th-Inning Decision to Oklahoma

A classic pitcher's duel came down to a failure to execute fundamentals as West Virginia dropped an agonizing 1-0 10-inning decision to Oklahoma on Friday night in Norman, Okla.

With a runner on second and two out in the bottom of the tenth, West Virginia relief pitcher Blake Smith was able to knock down a grounder back up the middle off the bat of Ben Hollas. However, Smith sailed the throw over the head of first baseman Jackson Cramer, and when the ball bounded into the dugout Alex Wise scored the unearned run to give the Sooners the win.

That score counterpointed West Virginia's excellent threat in the top of the frame which also went awry. Ray Guerrini got aboard after being hit by a pitch and Cole Austin beat out a putative sacrifice bunt, giving WVU runners on first and second with no out. However,  K.C. Huth was unable to get a bunt down, and when Ky;e Gray struck out looking, the momentum swung the home team's way. Pinch hitter Braden Zarbnisky did smack a liner to the outfield, but it was flagged down to end the inning.

Up until that point, the game was dominated by the starting pitchers. WVU starter Chad Donato was masterful, allowing just four hits and three walks over eight innings while striking out nine. He was matched by Sooner starter Chris Andritos, who took a no hitter into the seventh inning against WVU. The Mountaineers finally got him out of the game due to a high pitch count, but relievers JB Olson and Sheldon Neuse, who is also OU's starting shortstop and best hitter, kept the Mountaineers in check. 

Both teams had a couple of chances to score prior to the eventful tenth. Oklahoma led off both the second and third innings with doubles, but Donato responded with a pair of strikeouts in each. The Sooners mounted another threat in the sixth when he walked a pair, but the junior again dug deep and struck out Neuse for the second time in the game to shut it down.

West Virginia, held without a hit for the first six innings, twice tried to manufacture a threat with steals, but Oklahoma catcher Domenic DeRenzo gunned down Ivan Vera and Jackson Cramer in the fourth and seventh innings, respectively.

The Mountaineers (19-17, 5-7) fell to within a half game of the Sooners (19-19-1, 5-8) in the Big 12 standings. Oklahoma took a 6-5 lead in the games since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12.

Game two of the three game series begins on Saturday at 1:00 p.m Eastern. Lefthander Ross Vance (4-3, 5.44 EAR) is scheduled to take the hill for the Mountaineers against Oklahoma's Jake Elliott (0-1, 4.66 ERA).


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