After leading No. 3 TCU by three runs going to the ninth inning, the Mountaineers allowed the Horned Frogs to tie, only to see Ivan Gonzalez's sac fly in the bottom half score Jimmy Galusky as the Mountaineers walked it off with a 5-4 win here Friday to snap an 11-game series losing streak and cool off among the hottest teams in the nation.
The game appeared all but sealed going into the 9th, with starter BJ Myers slicing through a vaunted TCU line-up in getting within two outs of a second straight complete game. But Myers ran into trouble, giving up Evan Skoug's homer and a single to Josh Watson that ended the outing after 8.1 innings pitched. With a runner on first and one out, head coach Randy Mazey turned to Braden Zarbnisky to finish the game. But the right-hander allowed two singles around an out as TCU got within 4-3 with two on and two out.
A wild pitch then tied the game at 4-4, and completely deflated the crowd of 2,914, the fourth largest at home in program history. After a walk loaded the bases, Zarbnisky induced a groundout to strand three and keep the game tied. That set-up the last of the 9th for West Virginia, and it delivered when Galusky led off with a double, advanced to third on a sac bunt and scored on Gonzalez's sharp fly out to deep left. The ball chased TCU's Josh Watson back, the sophomore making a fine running play. But his momentum gave him no chance to get Galusky at the plate as the local kid tagged up, then tagged home plate as he was mobbed by teammates.
"We are within one out of winning the game with them at-bat," Mazey said. "But they are the best team in the nation for a reason. They had really good at-bats with the game on the line. We didn't really give them anything. They hit their way back into it. You can't ever let up against a team no matter the lead. You have to keep grinding and that's what we did."
It was, in the end, a fitting conclusion to a game largely controlled by the Mountaineers (20-12, 7-3 Big 12). Myers was brilliant, throwing the 8.1 frames while scattering six hits and allowing three runs, two earned. The right-hander struck out six and walked just one in changing locations and keeping his pitches down, which helped keep the ball in the park despite 16 fly ball outs.
"I didn't really want to take BJ out," Mazey said. "He was cooking in the ninth and he had thrown more pitches last week. Great job by both of those guys. He changes speeds, he pitches down in the zone, he has different arm angles, different slots, different tempo. You just never get a really good look at him. He mixed his pitches really well."
The offense, meanwhile, touched up TCU starter Jared Janczak for four runs in the first five innings, chasing the sophomore after 4.2 innings pitched for his shortest start of the season. Janczak entered 6-0 with just a 1.79 ERA in becoming arguably the most dominant weekend starter in the conference. He left with a 2.25 ERA as a West Virginia offense ranked second in the Big 12 in average pounded him for three extra base hits, including a pair of triples.
Reliver Charles King was able to keep the Horned Frogs within 4-1 going to the ninth inning, only to give way to Sean Wymer (2-2) who took the loss. Zarbnisky, in a somewhat unfair statistical situation, picked up the win to advance to 4-0 on the season.
Kyle Davis had two hits and an RBI to lead West Virginia, which won for just the third time in 16 games against TCU. Gonzalez had two RBI, while Cole Austin and Zarbnisky drove in the other runs as the Horned Frogs lost for the first time in 14 games. TCU (27-6, 8-2) also lost for the first time in six road games in falling to 7-4 away from home this season. The win represents the highest ranked foe the Mountaineers have ever defeated. It also sets the Mountaineers up to win a fifth straight series to start the season, including four in Big 12 play for the first time in school history.
"At this point in the season, we have a chance to do something good, so every game takes on super importance," Mazey said. "Being that they are who they are, I don't think our guys showed up today not thinking we weren't the best team on the field."
The win served as a touch of salve for the Big 12 Tournament title game defeat to TCU last season. West Virginia rallied to a 10-9 lead going to the ninth inning after trailing 8-0, but lost an automatic bid to the NCAAs in an 11-10 extra inning setback. This time, it was West Virginia walking it off, and advancing eight spots in the RPI to ninth - one spot ahead of TCU and within a game of the Frogs, who sit atop the conference.
The Mountaineers had their work cut out early as TCU went ahead 1-0 in the first inning on Luken Baker's RBI double down the right field line to score Cam Warner. The run went unearned, as Warner reached on an error by Austin at third base. WVU answered in the bottom half on a Kyle Gray's leadoff triple and Gonzalez's sacrifice fly.
The Mountaineers extended the lead to 3-1 in the 4th on Hill's single and Gray's RBI triple, followed by a sac fly from Zarbnisky. WVU tacked on another run to make it 4-1 on a huge two-out RBI single to center by Austin in the fifth inning. That ended the start for Janczak, who allowed the four runs, all earned, on six hits. He struck out six and walked two on 78 pitches.
The series vs TCU represents WVU's 10th, 11th and 12th games against a ranked foe in the first 33 games. The Mountaineers are now 7-3 vs ranked teams this season, with all but this game coming on the road.
The series continues Saturday at 4 p.m. WVU will start right-hander Michael Grove (3-1, 2.72 ERA) against TCU lefty Nick Lodolo (3-1, 4.93 ERA).