In its first taste of postseason baseball in 2023, No. 21 West Virginia could not collect a win in two games.
The Mountaineers (39-18) dropped their fifth-straight game with a 3-2 loss to No. 18 Oklahoma State (38-17) in the loser’s bracket of the Big 12 Tournament.
“If you take out the result, [Thursday’s game] will really help us going into next week,” head coach Randy Mazey said. “You’re not going to see better pitching than [Oklahoma State]. You’re probably not going to see a better offense than that. So I thought we played a really, really good [and] clean game.”
First-Team All-Big 12 pitcher Ben Hampton started the game on the mound for WVU. Hampton flirted with disaster in the first inning when a base hit, an error, and a hit batsman loaded the bases for the Cowboys before West Virginia recorded an out. He limited the damage to just two OSU runs.
Oklahoma State went scoreless in each of the next six innings. Hampton pitched through the sixth inning, allowing just two more hits after his first-inning hiccup. Because of Sam White’s error in the first, Hampton allowed no earned runs Thursday.
“That may have been the biggest thing that came out of today,” Mazey said. “We needed [Hampton] to pitch well today, and he did. That’s really encouraging moving forward.”
Braden Barry halved the deficit in the second inning when he scored Landon Wallace on an RBI groundout. Sam White tied the game in the sixth with a run-scoring groundout of his own. It was the first time in the last five games WVU came back to tie the score after suffering an early deficit.
The Mountaineers suffered a tough blow on a prime opportunity to take their first lead in 11 days in the eighth inning. With Grant Hussey on first base and no outs, Wallace attempted a sacrifice-bunt to move Hussey to second base. Wallace bunted successfully, and he was initially called safe at first base after a wide throw.
After umpire deliberations and a video review, the umpires confirmed that Wallace illegally exited the base paths en route to first base. He was called out, and Hussey returned to first base. They did not score.
“I have to go back and look at it,” Mazey said. “They explained it the way that explained it, I didn’t agree with it, and I still don’t. But, I’ll go back and look at it.”
WVU loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth inning, but Wallace struck out to end the game. The Mountaineers left 12 runners on base, which was more than double Oklahoma State’s total of five.
Big 12 Player of the Year J.J. Wetherholt (2-for-2, 2 HBP) and Wallace (2-for-5) each had two hits on the afternoon. Both doubled once.
The Mountaineers now await an NCAA Tournament placement. Regional hosts will be awarded Sunday night, while the remaining teams will be announced Monday at noon ET.
“I feel really confident that we will be playing next week,” Mazey said. “It’s a good feeling to tell your team, ‘Hey, this tournament’s over, but the season’s not over.'”