OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -West Virginia was let down by just about every facet of its game Thursday night and lost its opener in the Big 12 baseball tournament to sixth-seeded Kansas 7-2.
Mountaineer pitchers gave up 12 hits, the hitters managed just seven and the defense committed three errors. It all added up to a lopsided loss to a team WVU had beaten three times in one-run games during the regular season.
The loss comes after West Virginia's coaches and players had spent much of the three previous days trying to help tornado victims in the Oklahoma City suburbs. First-year coach Randy Mazey, who led those efforts by his team, refused to point to it as a distraction.
"We teach our guys all the time to avoid distractions and we have been here a long time this week,'' Mazey said. "But the community service work had no part in what happened on the field. I thought our guys were very focused going into the game.''
The third-seeded Mountaineers (31-26) put themselves in a hole with the loss, but it was far from a lethal blow. In the pool-play format, WVU still has games with No. 7 seed TCU at 5 p.m. (EDT) today and No. 2 seed Oklahoma State Saturday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. The winners of the two pools meet Sunday for the tournament championship and the automatic NCAA tournament berth that goes with it.
The Mountaineers have yet to use their ace. Big 12 pitcher of the year Harrison Musgrave (8-1, 2.14 ERA) will start for WVU today against TCU.
Instead of Musgrave, Mazey elected to start senior Dan Dierdorff against Kansas. Dierdorff pitched fairly well for much of his seven-inning stint, but was victimized by bad breaks - including his own first-inning fielding woes - and was overmatched by KU's Thomas Taylor.
"I thought Dan Dierdorff was as good as he's been all season,'' Mazey said.
Taylor (6-2) was magnificent, giving up just a second-inning run and retiring 18 Mountaineers in a row at one point. He gave up just four hits in 71/3 innings - all in the first two frames - and helped the Jayhawks snap a six-game losing streak.