LUBBOCK, Texas – Through 151 pitches, Ross Vance tried to snap West Virginia out of its losing skid. Yet pitch No. 152 only resulted in another Texas Tech walkoff win.
Tim Proudfoot’s two-out single in the bottom of the ninth scored pinch-runner Zach Davis, and the Red Raiders prevailed 3-2 on Friday night for their second final at-bat win in as many days.
West Virginia (27-23, 9-13), which dropped its sixth straight game and cemented a sixth-place finish in the Big 12, stranded 13 runners and continued to flirt with peril in regard to an NCAA at-large invitation.
Texas Tech goes for the sweep Saturday at 3 p.m.
“You have two choices now: You can either get bitter or get better. We’re going to try our best to get better.” —WVU coach Randy Mazey
Though Vance (3-3) lost his third straight start, the left-hander delivered a gutsy complete-game effort that WVU needed with closer Sean Carley having thrown 41 pitches in Thursday night’s 11-inning loss. Vance scattered nine hits, struck out six and induced three double plays.
His 145-pitch, 14-strikeout win over Ohio State on April 15 had been a staff-high this season before he outlasted that total against Texas Tech (39-16, 13-10).
“I was a little worried that Vance was losing his edge a bit from where he started, but after watching him pitch tonight he has that back,” coach Randy Mazey said. “I’ll feel good about him pitching next week in Oklahoma City (in the Big 12 tournament).”
By the time the Mountaineers reach Oklahoma City they could be desperate for wins to bolster their NCAA resume. Though the RPI remained steady at 27 after Friday’s loss, WVU’s late-season dip and a win-loss record creeping close to .500 won’t impress the committee.
“You have two choices now: You can either get bitter or get better,” Mazey said. “We’re going to try our best to get better.”
West Virginia managed only five hits yet had chances anyway thanks to Texas Tech’s three pitchers combining to walk nine batters and hit two more.
Ryan McBroom’s RBI single put the Mountaineers ahead in the fifth before Cam O’Brien scored on a wild pitch in the sixth.
“We left 13 runners on base and had several opportunities to get a big hit,” Mazey said. “They gave us plenty of chances to win the game and we just didn’t do it.”
Vance allowed solo homers to Bryant Burleson in the bottom of the sixth and Adam Kirsch one inning later.
“Lot of fun, huh?” said Texas Tech coach Tim Tadlock. “Tip your hat to West Virginia. Those guys, you have to feel for them a little bit, but at the same time, really proud of our guys.”
Cameron Smith (7-1) earned the win by throwing the final 3 2/3 innings of hitless relief.