WVU cashes in on TCU errors
OKLAHOMA CITY - West Virginia kept its Big 12 tournament championship hopes alive Friday night and it didn't even require another otherworldly performance by Harrison Musgrave.
Yes, Musgrave pitched well, throwing seven innings of five-hit ball with five strikeouts against TCU in his first start in 13 days.
But the Horned Frogs pitched in so much that Musgrave didn't even need to be at his best.
TCU committed a Big 12 tournament-record nine errors and West Virginia got eight hits off four pitchers in a 10-3 win at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
The win, after a 7-2 loss to Kansas on Thursday, evened third-seeded WVU's mark in the pool-play tournament at 1-1 with a game today against No. 2 seed Oklahoma State. OSU lost in extra innings to TCU late Thursday and played Kansas in the late game Friday.
The winner of WVU's pool advances to the title game against either Oklahoma or Kansas State Sunday. WVU (32-26) must beat Oklahoma State in today's 5 p.m. game to have any chance of advancing. The Mountaineers also need TCU to beat Kansas in tonight's final game of pool play. If Kansas beats TCU, it would win the pool (depending upon the result of Friday's late game) either at 3-0 or at 2-1 and with a head-to-head win over WVU.
Musgrave (9-1), who had not pitched in almost two weeks - he threw 140 pitches in a 14-strikeout shutout of TCU in Charleston on May 11 - turned in his 10th straight game in which he gave up two or fewer runs. But he threw 126 pitches in seven innings and labored in several frames.
"I was concerned if I would find the strike zone after not playing for a while,'' Musgrave said. "Once I was able to find it, it made it a little better and I was able to settle in a little earlier than I thought I was going to be able to."
After retiring the side in the first two innings - he struck out the side in the first - Musgrave struggled a bit in the third, threw 31 pitches and walked two before getting out of the inning. He gave up his first hit to third baseman Jantzen Witte with one out in the fourth.
TCU (29-27) finally got its first run off of Musgrave after 13 shutout innings this season when shortstop Keaton Jones tripled to lead off the fifth inning and scored on a ground ball.
But the Horned Frogs, who scored six runs in the ninth inning to upset Oklahoma State one night earlier, had no such magic against Musgrave. Second baseman Paul Hendrix hit the first home run all season off of Musgrave in the sixth, but that only narrowed the gap at the time to 7-2.
The most improbable aspect of the game was the error total by TCU. The Horned Frogs came into the tournament with what had been statistically the best defensive team in the Big 12. WVU, statistically the worst defensive team in the league, played error-free baseball.
TCU didn't get much in the way of pitching, either. Hard-luck Brandon Finnegan, TCU's No. 2 starter whose ERA coming into the game was just 2.90, was roughed up early for the second time this season by the Mountaineers and fell to 0-8. He lasted less than two innings and gave up four runs on five hits.
"They didn't play a great game, but that doesn't take anything away from the at-bats we had against a really good pitcher," WVU coach Randy Mazey said. "I thought we went out there and battled against him pretty well. We went into it with a good game plan and the guys executed it.''
West Virginia grabbed the lead in the first inning when second baseman Billy Fleming doubled to left-center, left fielder Jacob Rice singled and then they scored on an error and a fielder's choice to make it 2-0.
The Mountaineers got more, though, and quickly. In the second, Fleming hit a two-run, two-out, two-strike single to make it 4-0.
After that, WVU loaded the bases in the fourth without scoring, but then in the sixth, ahead 4-1, the Mountaineers loaded the bases twice and scored three times despite getting just one hit, a Ryan Tuntland single that scored just one of the runs. TCU walked three batters, hit another and committed two errors. That made the score 7-1.
West Virginia added three more in the seventh on just one hit - a two-run double by Ryan McBroom - and three more TCU errors to make it 10-2 and that was it for Musgrave.
Freshman Ryan Hostrander relieved Musgrave in the eighth and gave up just one meaningless run.