By Ryan Decker, Originally written for West Virginia Illustrated
Offense has not been West Virginia’s (32-22, 12-12) strength in the month of May, being unable to score more than four runs in a game just four times in twelve tries, and struggling to put together multi-run innings.
That was the Mountaineers’ downfall Sunday, as well.
While WVU was only able to muster a single run in four different innings, the Longhorns (34-20, 11-12) produced a trio of multi-run innings to fend off the Mountaineer comeback attempt in what ended as a 9-4 Texas victory in the regular season finale.
For the first time in the series, the Longhorns scored first, putting up four runs in the opening inning.
All four runs came around to score on one swing of the bat from Kacy Clemens, Texas’ leading hitter, with no outs recorded.
Mountaineer starting pitcher Kade Strowd failed to make it out of the first inning, as he allowed each of the first five hitters to reach base before being pulled. Sam Kessler came in in relief.
Kessler’s outing on the mound became extremely important. He limited the Longhorns to just one hit and zero runs during his three innings of work.
Kessler and fellow reliever Cody Wood did their part, limiting the Texas offense to just two hits while on the mound, and giving the WVU offense the chance to mount a comeback.
A home run by Jackson Cramer put WVU on the board in the fourth inning, with his team-leading ninth long ball of the year cutting the deficit to 4-1.
Cramer tallied extra-base hits in each of his first two at bats and finished the game 3-for-3 at the plate. He homered again in the eighth inning for his second-career multi-home run game.
West Virginia added a run an inning later on a groundout by Cole Austin, but left a runner on base when the inning ended after putting a pair of runners in scoring position with just one out.
Kyle Gray’s sacrifice fly in the sixth brought WVU to within one run, 4-3, but once again the Mountaineers left runners on the bases.
Longhorn hitters finally broke through once again in the sixth.
Jackson Sigman surrendered an RBI-double to Zane Gurwitz and then Shane Ennis gave up a two-out single to Ryan Reynolds that drove in a run, once again giving the Longhorns a three-run advantage at 6-3.
Texas put the game fully out of reach with a three-run eighth inning. Gurwitz clubbed his second RBI-double the frame, ending the regular season with a 2-for-4 day at the plate.
SERIES RECAP AND NOTES
WVU Drops Series Opener
The Mountaineer bats were relatively quiet Friday night, unable to give starter BJ Myers enough run support.
West Virginia scored single runs in the second and fifth innings to take a 2-0 lead, but the Longhorns scored in three-straight frames late in the game to earn the 6-2 win.
Mountaineers even series Saturday
WVU again took an early lead in Game 2 of the final series of the regular season on Saturday.
An RBI-double in the ninth inning by Darius Hill proved to be the difference maker. At the time it gave WVU a 4-1 lead, but Texas struck for a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame before a highlight play by Cole Austin ended the game.
Big 12 Championship Tournament Seeding
With the loss Sunday, the Mountaineers will enter next week’s Big 12 Championship Tournament as the No. 4 team in the conference.
A pair of losses Saturday by Oklahoma gave WVU the chance to finish no lower than fourth.
West Virginia will play Baylor in the opening round of the tournament at 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday.
Texas Tech and TCU are the top two seeds in the conference, followed by Oklahoma and WVU. Baylor and Texas are the fifth and sixth seeds, respectively, while Kansas and Oklahoma State are the final two teams.
Listening to the Tournament
All of WVU games at the tournament can be heard live from Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City on 91.7 FM in the Morgantown area or on u92.wvu.edu.