MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Though Texas came in ranked No. 19, West Virginia continued playing like the Big 12′s hottest team.
With Harrison Musgrave delivering another strong start and Sean Carley looking dominant in the closer’s role, the Mountaineers won their seventh straight game by edging Texas 5-3 on Friday night.
Bobby Boyd drove in two runs and scored two more, while West Virginia (25-16, 8-7) reached double-digit hits for the 26th time this season. With 1,552 fans in attendance, the final weekend of games at Hawley Field couldn’t have started any better.
“The confidence is through the roof,” said Musgrave (5-3).
The left-hander was sharp for six shutout innings, protecting a 4-0 lead before encountering trouble in the seventh when Texas (33-14, 10-9) struck for three runs.
“I made some big pitches when I needed to,” said Musgrave, who gave up 10 hits, struck out seven and walked just one. “But the seventh inning wrecked it for me.”
Fortunately for West Virginia, its bullpen is no longer a wreck—shored up by the aggressive Carley, who fanned four in two shutout innings for his second save.
“I’m proud of my team,” he said. “We’re playing really good baseball right now.”
So good that the Mountaineers jumped Texas in the Big 12 standings, for a day at least.
“To be honest, we’re not really looking at the Big 12 standings right now,” said Carley. “We’re just coming to the park knowing we’re going to win.”
That’s something coach Randy Mazey has sensed during the past three weeks, as his team has won nine of 10 games to prop up hopes of reaching an NCAA regional. Not even a visit from the league’s most storied program—and the Big 12′s top-rated pitching staff—could dent that confidence.
“I think our guys feel like we’re better than they are,” Mazey said.
Though Texas committed five errors, only one of the four runs allowed by starter Parker French (5-4) was unearned. The junior departed after six innings, having allowed eight hits, striking out two, walking three and throwing 101 pitches.
French was especially plagued by Boyd, the 5-foot-9 left-hander who hits out of the No. 2 hole and came in with a 20-point lead in the Big 12 batting race. His 3-for-5 night only widened the gap, raising Boyd’s average to .391.
Boyd put West Virginia ahead 1-0 by scoring on Billy Fleming’s single in the first, and those two had consecutive hits again in the third inning ahead of Jacob Rice’s RBI single.
In the fourth, Boyd pulled a two-run single into right field, scoring Taylor Munden and Michael Constantino to make it 4-0.
Texas leadoff hitter Brooks Marlow finished 4-for-5, including an RBI single in the seventh when the Longhorns finally got to Musgrave. Ben Johnson also had an RBI infield single in the inning before Marlow scored on a groundout to narrow the margin to 4-3. But Musgrave stranded the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position by striking out C.J. Hinojosa.
WVU countered in the bottom half of the inning, with Cameron O’Brien delivering a two-out single against Morgan Cooper to score Ryan McBroom.
Then West Virginia turned the game over to Carley, the former No. 2 starter who was making only his third appearance since sliding to the bullpen.
“Big Sean threw great,” said Musgrave, who has sacrificed at least three previous wins when the bullpen failed to hold late leads. “That’s what he was moved to the bullpen to do.”
Saturday’s second game of the series is scheduled for 4 p.m.