Texas baseball was swept in two straight conference series for the first time since 1956, falling to West Virginia 9-5. The Longhorns are now 21-27, the second worst overall record in the Big 12, and are 9-12 in Big 12 play. West Virginia on the other hand now sits at 27-19, and has won eight of their last nine games.
An atrocious start doomed the Longhorns. Kyle Johnston began the game with two straight walks, and then threw a pitch in the dirt, resulting in the two runners advancing. Though Johnston had only allowed a .231 average to opposing hitters coming into Sunday’s game, he has given up 37 walks in his 59.2 innings pitched. A shallow sac fly brought a run home, and then two errors made the score 3-0. The first error was given up by Johnston, who threw a ground ball high over the head of first basemen Kody Clemens. Patrick Mathis then continued his season long struggles at right field, kicking a base hit into center field.
On offense, Texas attempted to chip away at the first inning deficit. Zane Gurwitz started the second inning with a double over an outfielder’s head. Tyler Rand later knocked a hustling Gurwitz home on a two out single to make the score 3-1. Texas, however, failed to make too much noise, as the ‘Horns struck out five times in the first two innings.
Johnston again began the inning with a walk in the second. After a sac bunt, Johnston then walked another batter. Two consecutive base hits made the score 5-1. Jake McKenzie then failed to catch a potential ending inning double play. Though McKenzie was able to salvage an out, the Mountaineers scored again to make it 6-1. After walking another batter, Kyle Johnston was replaced by Connor Mayes. Mayes then gave up a double to make it 7-1.
Zane Gurwitz, however, continued to put the team on his back on offense. The junior hit a three run shot in the third inning to bring the score to 7-4. The next inning, Travis Jones hit a sac fly to make it 7-5. Patrick Mathis was a big boost for the Longhorn bats. He made up for his early error by hitting 4-5 on the day, bouncing back from his three strikeout outing earlier in the series.
Though Connor Mayes had a couple of 1-2-3 innings and posted a career high eight strikeouts, WVU eventually extended the lead. The Mountaineers scored on a base hit in the fourth, and then again in the sixth. The Sixth inning run was especially draining, as it resulted from three straight two out singles.
Beau Ridgeway came into pitch in the seventh and finished the game admirably. However, the damage had already been done. Texas fell behind early in each game this weekend, and could never claw back.
It’s hard to find the positives from this series, especially because Dwight Eisenhower was president the last time Texas was swept in consecutive conference series. Even worse, in 1956, series were only two games, so this is the first time in history Texas was swept in consecutive three game conference series.
Texas will have a long break to regroup, as the ‘Horns don’t play again until May 17 against Texas State. Texas’ last conference series will be against Baylor starting May 19. They may be playing just for a chance to make the Big 12 tournament.