Mountaineers Fall to Cowboys in Big 12 Tournament

Randy Mazey said he couldn’t have scripted West Virginia’s Big 12 tournament debut any better, but he probably could have found a better way to write the events Thursday in an 8-4 loss to Oklahoma State.

The Mountaineers considered themselves fortunate after Wednesday’s game that they could leave their bullpen untouched due to a stellar complete game from their freshman, Isaiah Kearns. On Thursday, they needed all of the arms they could get.

B.J. Myers got the start, reuniting the two pitchers of record from the regular season meeting between West Virginia and Oklahoma State. Back then, in March, Myers went six innings and struck out a career-high 10 batters. The results in Bricktown were not on the same level.

The junior right-handed pitcher only lasted two innings, giving up four hits and two earned runs. The damage on the scoreboard came almost immediately, as Colin Simpson cranked a 3-1 offering out of the ballpark for a two-run homer that set the tone early.

When the third inning began, Myers’ day was done. Sam Kessler came in to take over the duties on the mound, giving up one run while yielding three walks. Through seven innings, the Mountaineers had gone through four pitchers.

Senior Jackson Sigman met Simpson in the sixth inning and the 5-foot-9 freshman connected on his second two-run shot of the evening for a 8-2 lead at the time.

West Virginia’s offense kept pace at the plate, but couldn’t find a way to stay with the run production that the Cowboys had all game. WVU finished the game with 13 hits to OSU’s 11.

“We were clicking tonight, we just left too many guys on base early,” Mazey said. “Every guy that stood in there, I thought, had a really good at-bat. We made a lot of hard outs, got a lot of hits, I think the difference was I think we walked seven and hit two and they only walked two. We gave them a lot more free bases.”

Braden Zarbnisky, the All-Big 12 first team member, singled to get the bottom of the 7th inning going before stealing second and advancing to third on a Chase Illig ground out. Brandon White knocked in the first run for the Mountaineers with a ground out that brought Zarbnisky home.

The designated hitter came up in the next inning and scored Jackson Cramer with a single to left, finishing the game with a career-high four hits, which is the most by a WVU player in Big 12 tournament history.

“Just going up there with confidence,” Zarbnisky said to describe his success at the plate. “Don’t let the pitcher out-think you. Just work on driving the ball and if you get to two strikes, work on putting it in play and seeing if you can beat anything out.”

Darius Hill and Cole Austin added RBIs in the sixth inning as West Virginia tried to claw its way back into the game, pulling the Mountaineers back within four runs at 8-4.

That would be as close as WVU could get, the loss setting up a match-up with No. 1 seed Texas Tech Friday afternoon.

“This is when you get tested,” Mazey said. “We talked about it all year long that you get into conference tournaments and play a lot of games in a short period of time. It really tests your bullpen and your pitching staff and the bullpen list tomorrow is going to be a short one. We need big [freshman pitcher] Alek [Manoah] to go out there and get us pretty deep into that game, if we can.”

First pitch between the Mountaineers and the Red Raiders is set for 3:15 p.m. CT from Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.

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