By Ryan Decker
OKLAHOMA CITY – It was going to take the long route, and another comeback, if No. 4 seed West Virginia (34-24) was going to make it to the Big 12 Championship game for the second year in a row.
A loss two days ago at the hand of eighth-seeded Oklahoma State (29-25) put WVU in the losers bracket, but Friday’s comeback win over Texas Tech gave the Mountaineers a chance at redemption against the Cowboys.
Saturday’s comeback try came up short.
Garrett McCain drove in all four of the Cowboys’ runs, including the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th inning, which proved to be enough as Oklahoma State fended off WVU 4-3 to advance to the Big 12 tournament Championship game.
“I haven’t seen a more clutch player in a long time in coaching (than McCain),” Cowboy head coach Josh Holliday said. “He clutches up and gives us a three-run double, and then from there our bullpen did a great job.
For the second day in a row WVU entered the ninth inning need to score to stay alive.
Pinch hitter Kevin Brophy lucked out by having a weakly hit pop fly drop in and out of the glove of OSU shortstop Cameron Dobbs. Brophy reached second base on the play, before being pinch ran for by Riley Troutt.
Two pitches later, Troutt was driven in from second on a single through the right side of the infield hit by Jimmy Galusky that tied the game 3-3.
It was Galusky’s lone hit of the day.
The Mountaineer shortstop was stranded on base, sending the game to extra innings.
Oklahoma state would send seven men to the plate in the tenth, including McCain, hitting with two runners on base.
McCain singled to left, driving in Jacob Chappell, and regaining the lead for the Cowboys.
That’s all the run support reliever Carson Teel, who blew the save in the ninth, would need in his second chance to end the game.
“Carson Teel, what else can you say?” Holliday said. “The kid came in there and filled the strike zone. We dealt with a little adversity when it felt like — or looked like anyway — that we would be on the verge of closing it out.”
The Mountaineers made it interesting as Austin reached second on a fielding error by Ryan Cash, but he would be stranded in scoring position when the last out was recorded.
“We’ve played a lot of games this year that have come down to the last inning. … A game like that is not unusual to us. And that’s what we talked about – let’s walk off. We’re the home team. We’ve got a chance to win this thing in the bottom of the inning. … I still thought we had a chance to win.” — WVU head coach Randy Mazey
West Virginia took the first lead of the game, going ahead 1-0 in the fourth on an sacrifice fly by Jackson Cramer.
That was the lone run of the first three innings, but the one-run lead wouldn’t last through the sixth.
WVU senior reliever Jackson Sigman surrendered a bases-clearing, three run double to McCain.
With the win, Holliday’s club advances to the Big 12 Championship game, facing either Texas or Texas Christian. Oklahoma State likely only qualifies for the NCAA Tournament by winning on Sunday.
West Virginia is a lock to make it to the “big dance.” WVU qualifies for NCAA Tournament play for the first time since 1996.
“I’m super proud of these guys,” Mazey said. “We went out this year and our slogan was ‘We’re on a mission’ to prove to everybody out there that we belong in the NCAA Tournament, and I can’t imagine that we’re not in.”
NCAA Tournament seeding will be unveiled Monday noon ET.