With a chance to take a conference series before game three on the way to the Big 12 tournament, the Longhorns dropped another one-run game, this time to the West Virginia Mountaineers, 4-3. Junior Morgan Cooper took the loss in what was likely his final start at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, and sophomore Kody Clemens was the only Texas batter to have multiple hits on the day, smacking two of the team’s seven hits.
The Mountaineers took an early 1-0 lead in the second off of a RBI double from Chase Illig. The Horns finally responded in the fifth with some help from West Virginia. Senior Zane Gurwitz was hit by a pitch, then advanced to second on a balk when WVU starter Alek Manoah tripped in the middle of his motion. After advancing to third on a wild pitch, Gurwitz raced home when sophomore Michael McCann beat out an infield single on a chopper to the third baseman.
Illig would not let the game be tied for long as in the next half inning he brought another runner around with a RBI single. The Mountaineers added another in the seventh, this time off of sophomore Chase Shugart, on a perfectly executed suicide squeeze.
Texas cut the margin to one after the stretch when junior Travis Jones grounded to short, allowing freshman David Hamilton to score from third. Though he added a RBI to his season tally, Jones struggled on the day, going 0-for-5.
WVU added one more run in the ninth inning following a leadoff walk issued by sophomore Tyler Schimpf. The runner reached second on a sacrifice, third on a groundout, and scored on a double. Though Schimpf made a good play to make the second out, WVU benefited from Longhorn bullpen woes and got a necessary insurance run.
Texas threatened in the ninth and cut the lead to one when Hamilton led off with a double and was driven in by Kody Clemens. Texas looked to have a chance to tie it for a split second when Jones sent a ball down the third base line, but WVU third baseman Cole Austin made a fantastic diving stop to prevent the ball from going down the line and preserve the Mountaineer victory to tie the series.
Cooper went six innings allowing six hits and two earned runs, walking three and striking out seven. Shugart allowed one earned run in one inning. Sophomore Nick Kennedy pitched a perfect eighth, while Schimpf gave up one hit, one earned run, and one walk in his ninth inning.
Texas sends Kyle Johnston to the mound tomorrow at 1 p.m. to try to take the series.
David Pierce quotes
On Texas’ play: We went into the ballgame yesterday, we played as clean as we could play and today in a close game we weren’t clean, that was the difference. We walked three guys in the last three innings and they got two runs from it, we ran ourselves out of a couple of innings and for the most part we didn’t swing the bat that well. I thought Travis really squared the ball up to finish the game, the kid really made a great play in no doubles position.
On inconsistency at this point in the season: You bring a reliever in and he doesn’t attack the strike zone for whatever reason, we walk three guys in a row and that was the difference. Inconsistency is something you can say because yesterday we had six clean outs, in the eight and the ninth.
On what WVU did to prevent big innings: They played very good defense today. We didn’t have hits fall today.
On Cooper’s outing: I thought it was good. He gave the ball club a chance to win. He came out of the game (down) 2-1. He’d like to have had the last RBI back. He tried go up on a kid, went up, and didn’t get it quite in. The kid did a good job with it.
On Nick Kennedy: He’s going to be that swing guy that can help us with short stints out of the bullpen, and potentially a starter still.
On mindset entering tomorrow: We’ve just got to do the little things. We’re a ball club that depends on playing great defense and pitching. When we have opportunities we’ve got to come through. We’ve got to have guys come through. I thought Kody had a great at bat to give us an opportunity there and was robbed.
On not being able to close out the game: We were just talking about it in the locker room. Tyler was saying that he would’ve scored if that ball had gotten past the third baseman so that’s just unlucky. We tried to battle back as much as we could but unfortunately we didn’t finish.