WVU Preaches Effort After Second Straight Series Loss - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Preaches Effort After Second Straight Series Loss

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Randy Mazey and the Mountaineers have won each of their first three Big 12 series. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle) Randy Mazey and the Mountaineers have won each of their first three Big 12 series. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)

By Chris Jackson: After dropping its second straight series, West Virginia head coach Randy Mazey preached one message to his team: effort.

Once trailing 4-0 in the series finale Sunday afternoon, No. 25 WVU (25-17, 10-8) stormed back to tie the game at 4-4 in the seventh inning after Kyle Gray’s RBI single. However, the Sooners (30-16, 8-7) responded four innings later, securing a 7-4 victory in extra innings during the rubber match.

“We’ve only got about three weeks left in this deal,” Mazey said. “What’s going to carry us through the stretch here is simply effort. The effort was really good today.”

Freshman pitcher Alek Manoah helped bring WVU back into the game, rallying his teammates in the dugout when the team was being shutout. His leadership helped key in a stretch WVU’s comeback attempt.

Jackson Cramer broke out of his 1-for-23 slump, launching a two-run home run to right field in the sixth inning to cut the deficit to 4-2. WVU added two runs the next inning to knot things up.

Despite the defeat, WVU remains positive as it holds a top three spot in the Big 12 standings and is closing in on its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1996.

“Right now, we’re doing really well,” said WVU reliever/designated hitter Braden Zarbnisky. “Everything that’s gone on has made us closer. We’ve learned not to quit, come back in games.”

Kade Strowd surrendered Oklahoma’s first three runs in his fourth career start, with all coming in the second inning. Jackson Sigman, Ryan McDonald, Cody Wood and Braden Zarbnisky provided beneficial relief appearances once Strowd was taken out, allowing a combined four runs --- three of those coming off Zarbnisky in the 10th inning.

“In the big scheme of things, it was more important for us to get some good pitching performances this weekend probably more than it was for us to win this series, and we did,” Mazey said.

Friday’s series opener was resumed Saturday after five innings due to weather delays, with Oklahoma clinging to a 2-1 lead.

WVU’s offense responded once the game was picked up Saturday afternoon. After loading the bases, freshman outfielder Brandon White grounded into a double play, scoring Kyle Davis and tying the game at 2-2 in the sixth inning.

Sophomore second baseman Kyle Gray delivered an RBI single to give the Mountaineers the lead for good during the next at-bat, aided by the shutout efforts from the bullpen duo of Sam Kessler and Braden Zarbnisky to seal the 4-2 victory.

“That was a big win,” Mazey said. “Anytime you show up to the field and you’re losing in the sixth inning and you come out with the win, you have to feel good about that.”

Freshman right-hander Alek Manoah tossed arguably the best start of his college career Saturday. After giving up back-to-back singles to start the game, he retired the next 15 batters before walking shortstop Brandon Zargoza in the sixth inning to end the streak.

Manoah’s shutout was all for naught as he allowed a bases-clearing double to Kyle Mendenhall in the seventh, giving the Sooners a 3-1 lead as they took game two.

Kyle Davis scored WVU’s only run of the contest, hitting his team-best seventh home run to give WVU a 1-0 lead in second inning. He was the only Mountaineer to tally multiple hits, turning in a 3-for-4 performance.

“Just one mistake pitch, that’ll happen in this conference,” Davis said. “They didn’t have any threats all day, so the one inning they did, he just made one mistake. Their guy (Kyle Tyler) threw a gem as well.”

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