Three hits by the No. 17 West Virginia Mountaineers were enough to overcome a remarkable performance by Texas Longhorns ace Bryce Elder in a 3-2 victory for the road team on Friday evening at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin.
Coming into the game, Texas had dropped four straight games and was set to face West Virginia ace Alek Manoah, who had not allowed a single run in three consecutive starts. Two of those starts were complete game shutouts, and the other going eight complete.
Taking those two things into consideration, it certainly felt like it was going to be a long night for the Longhorns.
The sophomore carried a no hitter into the 7th inning before allowing a single off the bat of Marques Inman that found its way through the shift.
The big West Virginia righty turned in yet another dominant start with the only hiccup an RBI single by Austin Todd in the third inning. For most of the night, it appeared that one run was going to be plenty for Elder, who pounded the strike zone and worked with a great tempo.
With head coach David Pierce rightfully lacking confidence in the Longhorn bullpen, you knew he was going to let Elder try and go the distance despite losing the no-no late in the game. Sitting right around 100 pitches heading into the eighth, it was definitely the right decision.
Unfortunately, after quickly retiring the first two hitters of the inning, Elder lost the strike zone and issued a walk to put the tying run on.
It was a critical error, as WVU pinch-hitter TJ Lake took Elder deep to right field to give the Mountaineers their first lead of the night, 2-1. Matteo Bocchi came on in relief to get the final out of the inning.
Oh, how quickly things can turn south.
In the bottom of the eighth, Eric Kennedy led things off with a single to left to earn his fourth hit of the night. However, after two quick outs it looked as if Texas was going to throw away their opportunity to push across the equalizer.
Fortunately for the Horns, Ryan Reynolds had other plans as he shot a base hit through the infield into center allowing Kennedy to score from second to tie things at two.
Bocchi, who was back out to work the ninth, served a one-out meatball to the Mountaineer cleanup hitter Inman, who sent a no-doubter into the West Virginia bullpen to regain the lead.
YES!!! MARQUES INMAN!! He launches one deep to left to give WVU the lead back in the 9th!!— WVU Baseball (@WVUBaseball) April 27, 2019
M-9, WVU 3, UT 2
@WVUIMGSports, https://t.co/csGUU6uQjc #HailWV pic.twitter.com/TS1ovPq2WW
Texas went quietly in the bottom of the ninth, dropping game one 3-2. Having been in control for most of the night, this was a devastating loss in a must win game.
The Longhorns will now need to take the next two games in order to keep alive any shot at making a regional.
Game two is schedule for Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Central on the Longhorn Network as Blair Henley will look to turn in another strong outing.