West Virginia Drops Both Ends Of Twin Bill, Falls Out Of Big 12 Title Race

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Texas Tech rallied with two runs over the final two innings to beat West Virginia 4-3 in the second game of a doubleheader here Saturday as the No. 4 Red Raiders secured the series.

The Mountaineers, who managed just nine hits over the two total games, led 3-2 in the eighth inning and seemed headed for a split before Tech managed to plate a run when leadoff hitter Grant Little walked before advancing to third base on a single when left fielder Kyle Davis bobbled the ball. Little then scored on on a double play fielder's choice to tie the game.

The Raiders then took their first lead of the game at 4-3 in the ninth inning when Orlando Garcia singled, stole second and scored on another single to tag reliever Jackson Sigman with the loss. The Mountaineers advanced pinch runner TJ Lake to third on a pair of wild pitches in the last of the ninth, but Cole Austin flew out to right to seal the series for Texas Tech, which goes for the sweep on Sunday.

It was a harsh series of events for the Mountaineers (26-19, 10-10 Big 12), who entered the weekend just a game behind Tech (39-12, 13-7) for second place in the Big 12, but saw their standing fall to fourth with the losses. It was WVU's sixth loss in its last nine games and West Virginia has now lost three straight Big 12 series after winning its first five of the season - four in conference play - while becoming a victim of stagnant offense and a lack of pitching depth after injuries to Carter Camp, Connor Dotson and Michael Grove.

That, in turn, has elevated pitchers who formerly threw in midweek games or out of the bullpen, like game one starter Kade Strowd and Sunday starter Alek Monoah, into weekend league action. WVU was also hurt by a one-hour, 19-minute rain delay that ended the solid start of BJ Myers, the remaining staff ace who was forced to exit after allowing one earned run on five hits through the first four frames. He struck out two and worked through a vaunted Tech line-up that leads the Big 12 in average and runs scored before exiting after throwing just 52 pitches.

"We were ahead going in (to the rain delay) and we were behind when it ended, the second weekend in a row that happened," head coach Randy Mazey said. "They had a lot more energy than we did after the rain delay, maybe because BJ was out."

The Mountaineers scored twice in the first inning and led 3-2 when the rain fell just after the completion of the fourth inning. But like in the series loss last weekend to Oklahoma, which was delayed for more than an hour by lightening, West Virginia couldn't hold the advantage and ultimately lost a quite winnable game.

Tech's staff, which ranks second in the Big 12 in ERA at 3.89, held the Mountaineers to the nine hits and three runs, by far the fewest scored over any two-game stretch this season. WVU had just two extra base hits, and managed just one at-bat with a runner in scoring position, that to end the game on Austin's fly out.

Unlike in a 1-0 loss in the opening game, West Virginia's offense was effective early, plating a pair of runs in the first inning when leadoff hitter Kyle Gray doubled and advanced to third on a single by Braden Zarbnisky. Kyle Davis' single to center then scored Gray before Zarbnisky advanced home on a balk after dancing off the third base bag and drawing the attention of TTU starter Ryan Shetter. 

The Mountaineers were then able to load the bases and threatened for more before Austin's fielder's choice ended the inning. Tech answered with a solo run in the third inning on Ryan Long's RBI double to cut the edge in half at 2-1. Davis hit his team-best eighth homer of the season in the bottom half on a blast to center that cleared more than 400 feet. The solo shot extended the lead to 3-1, and was Davis' 32nd RBI of the season. 

The rain began to fall shortly thereafter, and the teams were just able to complete the fourth inning before the one-hour, 19-minute delay stopped play until approximately 9:43 p.m. Sigman (2-3) took the loss, while Tech reliever Jose Quezada (5-4) picked up the win. Parker Mushinski got Austin to fly out to record the save, his fourth of the season. Three different Texas Tech players had multi-hit games, including Farhat, who went 3-for-4 with an RBI.

West Virginia dropped the first game of the doubleheader 1-0. The Mountaineers managed a season-low two hits, those by Darius Hill and Zarbnisky, and went down in order in the last two frames as TTU's Erickson Lanning and Jacob Patterson combined for shutout. It was WVU's first shutout loss since a 6-0 defeat at Tulane on March 4. 

The Mountaineers advanced just one runner to third base, that coming in the second inning, as the lack of offense spoiled a quality start by Strowd, who pitched 4.1 innings, scattering four hits and allowing the deciding run. Sam Kessler and Cody Wood combined for 5.2 shutout innings of relief.

The two losses dropped the Mountaineers three games behind Tech for second place in the Big 12 and likely erased any chance at a league title, as frontrunner TCU leads WVU by four games with exactly that many left for both teams to play. The defeats dropped West Virginia from 11th in the RPI to 14th.

The first game of the series was originally scheduled for Friday evening, but was rained out and rescheduled as part of Saturday's doubleheader. The series concludes Sunday at 1 p.m. when WVU's Alek Manoah (0-1, 3.00 ERA) gets the start. Texas Tech has not announced a starter.


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