OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Harrison Musgrave received plenty of help from the defense. TCU’s defense.
With the Horned Frogs committing a record nine errors that led to six unearned runs, West Virginia’s ace enjoyed ample cushion in a 10-3 victory at the Big 12 tournament Friday night. The Mountaineers (32-26) improved to 1-1 in pool play and still must defeat Oklahoma State on Saturday to have a chance at advancing to Sunday’s championship game.
“I was concerned if I would find the strike zone after not pitching for a while. Once I was able to find it, it made it a little better and I was able to settle in a little earlier than I thought I would be able to.” — Harrison Musgrave
“I guess today it seemed like it snow-balled, but it’s all a mentality,” said Jones. “We should make all of those plays. Once that first error hits, you have to get ready and refocused and move on to the next play. We didn’t do that very well today.”
Finnegan (0-8), who on May 11 was chased after 2 2/3 innings against WVU, was lifted after only 1 2/3 innings this time around and trailing 4-0. (The combined carnage of the left-hander’s two starts against the Mountaineers: eight runs, 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings.)
“Obviously West Virginia sees (Finnegan’s) pitches pretty well,” Jim Sclossnagle. “I’m not the kind of coach that tries to re-invent the wheel at this time in the year. We thought about pitching someone else because of the previous success they have had against Brandon, but I have a lot of confidence in him.”
Billy Fleming’s one-out double and Jacob Rice’s single sparked West Virginia’s threat in the top of the first. Ryan Tuntland scored Fleming with an RBI chopper that skipped past Hendricks at second base. Ryan McBroom followed with a high bounce-out to third that scored Rice for a 2-0 lead.
Fleming made it 4-0 in the second inning, whacking a two-out, full-count pitch into left field for a two-run single.
“I definitely wanted to start the game off early in the first inning and to get Harrison some runs because we know you can shut the door pretty quickly,” Fleming said. “With Harrison not pitching for a while, we weren’t sure if he would settle in early like he wanted to. I wanted to give our team a chance to try to get me in and we scored a couple of runs.”
Harrison’s 17-inning scoreless streak ended in the fifth when Keaton Jones rolled a leadoff triple through the gap in left-center and scored on a groundout.
But West Virginia answered with three runs — on only one hit — in the sixth, thanks to two errors, three walks and a hit batter. Rice drew a bases-loaded walk beforeTuntland bounced an RBI single up the middle. McBroom’s double-play grounder also scored a run as WVU led 7-1.
In the bottom half of he sixth, TCU’s Hendrix hit an 0-2 breaking ball from Harrison into the left-field stands — the first homer WVU’s ace has allowed in conference play.
But TCU committed another three errors in the WVU seventh, allowing the three more unearned runs to score. The lone hit amid the foibles was McBroom’s two-run double.
Ryan Hostrander finished up the final two innings for West Virginia, which has a fresh bullpen ready in back of No. 3 starter John Means for Saturday’s do-or-die game against Oklahoma State.
WVU coach Randy Mazey yet again returned to the preseason coaches poll that had the Mountaineers unanimously picked to finish last in the Big 12.
“I think every time we played a conference game, it’s like we go out there to prove something,” Mazey said.
“There is no better motivation for everybody on the other side of the field to think you are the worst team in the league. The way we have played, we have proven that we are not the worst team in the league.”
BIG 12 TOURNAMENT
No. 6 Kansas 1-0
No. 3 West Virginia 1-1
No. 7 TCU 1-1
No. 2 Oklahoma State 0-1
No. 1 Kansas State 2-0
No. 4 Oklahoma 2-0
No. 5 Baylor 0-2
No. 8 Texas Tech 0-2
Oklahoma 8, Texas Tech 0
Kansas State 13, Baylor 9
West Virginia 10, TCU 3
Oklahoma State vs. Kansas, late
Baylor vs. Texas Tech, 10 a.m. Eastern
Kansas State vs. Oklahoma, 1:30 p.m.
West Virginia vs. Oklahoma State, 5 p.m.
TCU vs. Kansas, 8:30 p.m.