The offensive struggles continued for the No. 1 seed Texas Longhorns in Oklahoma City at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark against the No. 8 seed West Virginia Mountaineers late Friday, but three hits were enough for a 3-2 victory.
After the Longhorns tried to wait out a strong performance from Mountaineers pitcher Jacob Watters, who walked four in three innings while striking out eight, Texas had a chance to break the game open in the fourth inning.
With Madison Jeffrey on the mound, the Horns walked the bases loaded with two outs when center fielder Mike Antico jumped on a 1-0 pitch, lining it deep into right field. Instead of a game-changing grand slam for Antico, West Virginia right fielder Austin Davis was able to come up with the leaping grab at the fence to rob the graduate transfer and limit the Texas lead to 1-0.
In the top of the fifth, West Virginia took advantage of the big play defensively, getting to left-hander Pete Hansen with two outs. The rally started with a double down the right-field line, then Davis dropped a bunt single to first base. Normally free-swinging Matt McCormick worked a full count before getting a breaking ball he sliced through the left side of the Longhorns infield to score two runs and take a 3-2 lead.
The big hit finally came for Texas in the sixth inning, however, as the Longhorns were able to string multiple hits together for the only time in the game. Third baseman Cam Williams walked to lead off the frame and right fielder Douglas Hodo III reached on a fielder’s choice. After shortstop Trey Faltine singled to left field, catcher Silas Ardoin stayed back on a 1-1 pitch and doubled down the right-field line to score two runs.
Hansen departed the game after 6.2 innings with a career-high nine strikeouts and two runs allowed on six hits with no walks. Right-hander Tanner Witt came on in relief to get the final seven outs, ending the game with a strikeout after a walk resulted in a runner on third following two stolen bases.
The 14 strikeouts were once again a disappointment, but Texas took a coherent approach forcing Watters to make pitches, then suffered from some bad luck when it finally barreled pitches, including the robbed grand slam, a well-hit ball down the right-field line by first baseman Zach Zubia, and the fielder’s choice by Hodo that ricocheted off the third baseman.
And the Horns were able to achieve the bottom-line result — a victory to stay alive in Oklahoma City and advance to Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. Central game on ESPN+/Big 12 Now against No. 4 seed Oklahoma State.