Texas Longhorns baseball (33-20, 10-12 Big 12) fell to the West Virginia Mountaineers 4-2 Saturday in the second to last game of the regular season. It was Texas’ 12th one run loss of the year.
A West Virginia RBI double broke open the scoring in the second inning to make the score 1-0. Texas starter Morgan Cooper suffered some uncharacteristic command issues early by allowing a walk in each of his first three innings. The redshirt junior ace also allowed six hits on the day, but limited damage by amassing seven strikeouts.
Texas was able to knot the score at one in the bottom of the fifth thanks to the Longhorns capitalizing on shaky West Virginia defense. Zane Gurwitz was hit by a pitch to start the inning, and then reached second on a balk. Though Ryan Reynolds couldn’t lay down a sac bunt and eventually struck out, Gurwitz advanced to third on a wild pitch during the next at-bat.
With one out and a man on third, Michael McCann hit a dribbler to third that was ruled as an infield single and scored Gurwitz to tie the game. The Longhorns eventually got the bases loaded with two outs, but Travis Jones struck out to end the inning.
The Mountaineers bounced back immediately. Cooper recorded a quick strike out and ground out, but WVU rallied. After getting a single, West Virginia’s Braden Zarbinsky stole second and then reached third on a wild pitch. Chase Illig then singled up the middle to score Zarbinsky and bring the score to 2-1.
Cooper was able to get out of the inning, but Texas’ offense stranded Brett Boswell at second in the bottom half of the sixth. Cooper was replaced by Chase Shugart to start the seventh.
Shugart started the inning with a four pitch leadoff walk, and West Virginia’s Kyle Gray took second for the Mountaineers’ fourth steal of the day. He then advanced to third after a ground out to the mound. A sacrifice squeeze bunt score Gray to make it 3-1 Mountaineers.
In the bottom of the inning, Texas’ David Hamilton walked and stole second. Mathis then walked to put two on and no outs. After Kody Clemens grounded out to first and advanced the runners, the Longhorns had a man on second and third with one out.
Travis Jones then grounded to short to score Hamilton, but Mathis was thrown out caught in no man’s land while heading to third. Kacy Clemens then flied out to end the inning.
After Shugart again walked the leadoff man in the eighth, Nick Kennedy came on in relief for the ‘Horns. The lefty was able to get three straight outs to get Texas out of trouble.
The Longhorns went down 1-2-3 in the eighth and Tyler Schimpf came on for the ‘Horns to pitch in the ninth. Schimpf walked the leadoff batter, making it three straight innings that Texas allowed the first batter to have a free pass. A sac bunt then advanced the runner to second.
Schimpf was able to record a groundout, but a two out double put the Mountaineers up 4-2. Texas got out of the inning without further damage, but West Virginia had gotten a massive insurance run.
Texas’ Austin Todd struck out to begin the bottom of the ninth. David Hamilton then slapped a bloop double to give the ‘Horns some one out momentum and bring the tying run to the plate. Mathis, however, would pop out to center to bring Texas to its final out.
Kody Clemens knocked a base hit to bring the score to 4-3. West Virginia third baseman Cole Austin robbed Jones of a double down the line and was able to throw him out at first to end the game.
The rubber match will take place tomorrow at 1 pm CST. If Texas pulls out a victory, the Longhorns will feel good about their NCAA tournament chances heading into the Big 12 tournament. If the ‘Horns lose, then David Pierce’s club has some work to do in the Big 12 postseason before the team can make the real postseason.
Texas should have a starting pitching advantage Sunday with Kyle Johnston going up against a West Virginia pitcher that is to be determined. The Mountaineers are without two starting pitchers due to injury, so they may have to turn to an inexperienced arm on the mound.