Starter B.J. Myers flirted with his second consecutive complete game, throwing 8.1 innings while allowing just two earned runs against one of the hottest teams in the nation. The right-hander mixed speeds and locations, and anchored a defense that limited No. 3 TCU to just one run through eight innings in taking a 4-1 lead to the ninth. But with Myers tiring at 126 pitches, the Frogs pulled back in and ultimately tied the game at 4-4 against Braden Zarbnisky before the Mountaineers were able to win it on Ivan Gonzalez's walk-off sac fly to score Jimmy Galusky in the 5-4 win.
With respect to an offense that pounded out eight hits and chased undefeated TCU starter Jared Janczak after just 4.2 innings, the star was again Myers, who went the distance in a 10-1 victory over Kansas a week ago, then added to a budding career in limiting the most powerful offense in the Big 12 to just the pair of earned runs. Myers was left without a win, but showed his mettle in navigating a line-up with 30 homers this season, tops in the league, and in getting a nervy ninth inning strikeout of clean-up hitter Luken Baker, a 6-4, 265-pound power hitter.
"I was making the pitches I wanted to make, but they were hitting it hard," said Myers, who had six strikeouts against just one walk. "Luckily, they landed in our glove. If you watch me on the mound, I am a little cocky and I have all the confidence in the world in myself that I can get it done. (Head coach Randy) Mazey has drilled it into my head that confidence wins."
That, along with a dose of execution. West Virginia had it for most of the night, but the three-run ninth inning threatened to derail the biggest win in program history in terms of opposing ranking, and brought back thoughts of the Big 12 title game a season ago. TCU went ahead 8-0 in that one, only to see the Mountaineers take a 10-9 lead into the 9th inning and lose it in extras.
"We go through each player saying 'We got this, we got this. Just keep fighting,'" Myers said of the approach before the bottom of the ninth. "We have been fighting all year and we have walked off a couple games this year. This team has a lot of fight in them. We haven't beat them in a long time. It brings some swagger. We know we can hang with them. They ended our season last year and we got a little revenge this year."
That came in the bottom of the ninth, when Galusky set the table with a leadoff double. After a sac bunt by Brandon White, the order turned over to the top. TCU walked Kyle Gray to set-up a potential inning-ending double play before Gonzalez stepped to the plate and worked a 3-0 count. Mazey gave the catcher - who blamed himself for a wild pitch that tied the game 4-4 in the top half - the green light, and Gonzalez laced a liner to left. It backed up TCU's Josh Watson, who made a solid catch for the second out, but had no chance to get Galusky at the plate as he tagged and scored to seal the 5-4 victory and snap an 11-game series losing streak.
"I had just missed a blocked ball that I normally don't miss and I was in the dugout with my head down and all the guys came and picked me up," Gonzalez said. "Incredible group of guys. I couldn't ask for anything else. They said it would come down to me. (Jackson) Cramer came over and sad 'You're up!' and I had to block everything out and focus on my at-bat and put that ball out in the air knowing that the runner was going to score.
"We had a meeting before the at-bat and I said whatever you want to do, I'm good. Bunt or hit," Gonzalez added of his brief talk with Mazey. "We tried the bunt, didn't work out as he threw a ball. So 3-0 (Mazey) said go for it. His head is always spinning. He's always thinking about something."
The win moves West Virginia (20-12, 7-3) within a game of TCU (27-6, 8-2) for first place in the Big 12. It also snaps the Horned Frogs' 13-game winning streak, which matched the longest in the last 14 seasons for the program. WVU advanced to 7-3 against ranked teams this season, with all but this game played away from home. The crowd of 2,914 was the fourth-largest in program history and the third-largest at Mon County Ballpark.