The Big 12 has officially been put on notice.
West Virginia (35-21) shutout the home team Oklahoma Sooners Wednesday, and was put up with the task of facing the Big 12 regular season champions Thursday, facing off against Texas Tech (41-15).
Despite facing more adversity on the mound, West Virginia took the early lead and with the help of a big day at the plate by Kyle Davis went on to win 9-4 to advance one round further in the Big 12 Baseball Championship.
“You’ve got to make the most of every opportunity you get, and pile on the runs as much as you can,” WVU head coach Randy Mazey said. “We didn’t come here to win two games, we came here to win this tournament. We can feel really good about this game because it was a good game, but as soon as we take this jersey off (tonight) it’s over and it’s time to start looking forward to the next game because we still have a lot of work to do.”
For the second day in a row, Mazey was forced to go to his bullpen much earlier than he would have liked.
Starting pitcher Chad Donato recorded one out in the second inning, catching a pop up in foul territory in front of the WVU dugout. After the play, though, Mazey and a trainer headed out to the mound, and after a quick discussion Donato was pulled from the game with what appeared to be a hand or wrist injury.
Mazey did not comment on the extent of the injury.
The injury, which forced the premature pitching change, brought B.J. Myers in to pitch. Despite hitting the first batter he faced and walking the next, Myers got out of the inning without surrendering a run.
Opposing starting pitcher Davis Martin, pitched to the minimum through the first three innings.
It was in the fourth inning that the first runs were scored.
Hitting with two outs, Ivan Vera singled up the middle to keep the inning alive, and Jackson Cramer swung at the 1-1 pitch and hit it to left field. With the help of the swirling wing, which caused fielders problem all game long, the long drive to the outfield landed in the West Virginia bullpen for a two-run home run.
Texas Tech’s bats were held relatively quite through the first four innings, but the Red Raiders threatened in the fifth with two runners on and two outs. Myers, though, pitched out of the jam by inducing an inning-ending double play.
TTU did take advantage of its scoring chance in the following frame.
The Red Raiders loaded the bases with a pair of walks and a single with one out. After one run scored on a single by Tyler Neslony, a sacrifice fly by Hunter Hargrove plated the tying run, knotting up the game 2-2.
West Virginia responded by scoring one run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single by Vera, and then after TTU tied the game for a second consecutive inning, re-gained their lead with four runs in the seventh.
Hitting with two runners on, Jimmy Galusky laid down a perfectly placed bunt on the left side of the infield to load the bases. Davis, the next hitter, found a pitch he liked and sent a long fly ball into right-center field that found a gap, clearing the bases with a three-RBI triple.
“Good things have been happening throughout the whole lineup,” Davis said. “Everyone is starting to swing it. Our pitchers are lights out right now. It feels really good to be a Mountaineer right now.”
Davis then scored two batters later on Vera’s second single of the day, giving West Virginia a 7-3 lead.
He finished the day 3-for-5 with four RBI and scoring twice. He now has seven RBI in the tournament.
Texas Tech managed to score a run in the eighth after reliever Blake Smith walked a pair of hitters, and Cody Raley crossed home on a wild pitch.
Smith settled down on the mound, recording three outs before the Red Raiders could do any further damage.
Galusky added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning on an infield single with two outs, beating out the throw at first base, which allowed Cole Austin to score.
Smith made quick work of TTU in the ninth, picking up his fifth win on the year, and moving his team one round further in the tournament.
West Virginia scored its nine runs on 11 hits as three Mountaineers had multi-hit days at the plate. Texas Tech, on the other hand managed just six hits.
With the win, West Virginia earns itself an off day on Friday, and will not play again until Saturday.
Texas Tech suffers its first loss of the tournament, and will play Friday at 3:15 CT against Oklahoma, with the winner of that game advancing to play the Mountaineers on Saturday.