WVU did it with offense Wednesday against Kansas. In Thursday’s winner’s bracket game against Texas Tech, it got it done with defense.
The Mountaineers defeated Texas Tech to advance to Saturday’s semifinal at the 2019 Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship. West Virginia has now reached the semifinals in each of the last four seasons.
“It’s just the makeup and the chemistry of our team, and you guys are seeing it,” said head coach Randy Mazey. “The kind of kids we have, I mean, the catches Brandon White makes in center field are ridiculous. He’s been doing it for three years. I couldn’t be prouder of not just these two guys, but everybody.”
The Mountaineers were led by Big 12 Pitcher of the Year Alek Manoah. He tossed eight innings allowing just one run on four hits while striking out 10.
The performance followed up Manoah’s complete game shutout of the Red Raiders back in April.
“They’re great hitters. They’re obviously [the best] in the conference,” said Manoah. “Just extremely blessed to be able to throw well against them twice.”
Texas Tech, the tournament’s No. 1 seed, scored first on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third inning. However, the Mountaineers scored a pair of runs in the top of the fourth inning making the score 2-1 Mountaineers.
Texas Tech (37-16) threatened in the sixth and seventh innings, but WVU received two incredible diving catches by junior center fielder Brandon White that kept his side in front.
West Virginia (36-18) put the game out of reach in the top of the eighth when freshman Tevin Tucker drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and the victory was within reach.
Junior Sam Kessler finished it off for the Mountaineers with a clean bottom of the ninth to seal the 5-1 victory.
Manoah (9-3) got the win, his league-leading ninth of the year.
This was the first time in the 2019 Championship that a lower seed has pulled an upset.
The Red Raiders will now face No. 5 Kansas in an elimination game Friday at 4:15 p.m. ET West Virginia improved to 2-0 and will await the winner of the Texas Tech-Kansas matchup for a Saturday morning contest at 10 a.m. ET.
Watch the complete postgame press conference following Thursday’s West Virginia win: