MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Harrison Musgrave kept No. 18 Oklahoma State scoreless for six innings before a combination of tough luck, defensive lapses and the ever-mercurial West Virginia bullpen allowed Friday night’s game to unravel.
The Cowboys scored five unearned runs to pull away late 6-0, extending the Mountaineers’ losing streak to five games and dealing Musgrave his first Big 12 loss in 11 starts.
“For seven innings that was as good a college baseball game as there is,” said West Virginia coach Randy Mazey, whose team fell to 16-13 overall and 2-4 in league play.
Not even the energy surrounding the first Big 12 game at Hawley Field could get West Virginia’s offense cranked up. Behind Jon Perrin (4-2) throwing 6 1/3 innings of five-hit ball, the Cowboys (24-10, 6-4) dealt WVU its second shutout in a week. The Mountaineers have averaged just 1.6 runs during the current skid.
“I thought our at-bats were good tonight,” Mazey said. “We had a couple opportunities to score some runs and didn’t do it.”
That added even more pressure on Musgrave (3-2), the reigning Big 12 pitcher of the year, who has watched his bullpen give up three late-inning leads this season. This time the junior left-hander surrendered three runs—all unearned—over 7 1/3 innings. He allowed five hits, two walks and struck out five.
Despite being unable to trust his changeup and curve, he relied primarily on fastballs to two-hit Oklahoma State through six innings. But he encountered trouble in the seventh when Aaron Cornell beat out a soft-chopped single to second base.
After Cornell stole second with the middle infielders arriving late to the bag, Robie Rojas reached on a slow roller to deep shortstop. Then Tim Arakawa pushed a sacrifice bun toward third, where Michael Constanini’s bobble loaded the bases.
Though Musgrave fanned Craig McConaughy for the first out, OSU’s Gage Green followed with a liner to right field. where Shaun Wood made a hard-charging catch and narrowly missed throwing out Cornell at the plate.
“You can’t do much about them placing weakly hit ground balls—that’s part of the game,” said Musgrave. “But I can’t let that get to me, and I think it did let it bother me some tonight.”
West Virginia appeared ready to answer—and maybe even take the lead—in the bottom of the seventh. After Perin hit Max Nogay in the helmet and Constantini legged out an infield single, OSU turned to reliever Vince Wheeland. His two-out pitch was driven to deep right by Taylor Munden, only to be chased down when Cowboys outfielder Conor Costello made an over-the-shoulder catch.
“I was looking for something off-speed and put a good swing on it,” said Munden, who kicked at the base path and gnawed at the bill of his batting helmet upon seeing the grab made by Costello—his old summer-ball teammate from Texas. “Yeah, I really thought it was going to get down.”
That deflation was palpable in the top of the eighth, when OSU scored four more unearned runs after typically reliable second baseman Bille Fleming booted a soft liner that short-hopped to his backhand. That error preceded Musgrave—on his 129th and final pitch—allowing a Zach Fish double inside the third-base bag.
“You won’t hear me ever hear say anything about Billy Fleming’s defense,” Mazey said. “The guy has made like nine errors in three years. He’s as good a defensive second baseman as there is in college baseball.”
Reliever Pascal Paul issued an intentional walk to load the bases before fanning Dustin Williams for out No. 2. But when Mazey called on Joby Lapkowicz, Arakawa pulled a two-run single into right field. This time Wood’s throw home was perfect, but the runner dislodged the ball from catcher Cam O’Brien and OSU led 3-0.
The margin grew to 5-0 when Ryan Hostrander entered and gave up a two-run single to McConaughy.
“They got two two-RBI singles,” said Mazey. “(Oklahoma State) just made the most of their opportunities, which is what good teams do.”
The Cowboys tacked on another run against Hofstrander, using a walk, a balk and Corey Hassel’s two-out double. It was their only earned run of the night.
Fleming was 3-for-4 for West Virginia, which faces Oklahoma State on Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.