LUBBOCK, Texas – The regular season ended with a thud, and a shutout, for West Virginia.
Despite putting a runner aboard in every inning but the fifth, the Mountaineers couldn’t break through for a run Saturday, and consequentially, couldn’t break through for a win all weekend against Texas Tech, which completed the three-game series sweep 4-0.
“We’re just a little snakebit right now,” said West Virginia coach Randy Mazey, whose team will carry a seven-game losing streak—and a hefty dose of postseason desperation—into the Big 12 Conference tournament that opens Wednesday in Oklahoma City.
“It’s not like we’re playing bad, we’re just not getting the hits. We’ve hit more line drives at outfielders the last six games than we have the whole season. The 12 games before, we were hitting line drives between guys and down the line and scoring runs.”
Thanks to its late-season skid, West Virginia (27-27, 9-14) sits squarely on the NCAA bubble: It’s RPI still solid at No. 29, it’s win-loss record growing more pedestrian with every loss.
Meanwhile, Texas Tech (40-16, 14-10) has become an NCAA lock and made a persuasive case to be one of 16 regional hosts. Should the Red Raiders wind up playing at home in the postseason, they should be supremely confident, given their 31-4 record at Rip Griffin Park.
West Virginia provided plenty of competition for Tech in the first two games, each ending in walkoff fashion, but Saturday held none of the same drama.
When Adam Kirsch homered in the second inning off John Means (6-2)—the designated hitter’s second solo shot in as many days—the Red Raiders had all the runs they needed. With Dylan Dusek (6-0) working 6 2/3 innings and Dominic Moreno taking care of the rest for his second save, Texas Tech pulled off its third shutout of the season.
Dusek wasn’t overpowering—he struck out one, walked three and allowed five hits—but he was resourceful.
“I knew today would be a day of battling for me,” he said. “I wasn’t there with all my pitches, but I was definitely in my battle mode to get through every pitch. I battled as much as I could and got all the outs I needed, but without the defense behind me I wouldn’t have gotten that far today.”
West Virginia put two runners on twice in the early innings only to see double-play grounders nix each threat. Justin Fox’s grounder led to a third-to-first twin killing ended the second inning, while Cam O’Brien bounced back to Dusek to start a 1-6-3 double play in the fourth.
In the seventh, Fox drew a two-out walk to chase Dusek and Michael Constantini singled against Moreno. But Taylor Munden’s liner to left field was caught by Tyler Nelsony.
Moreno escaped more difficulty in the ninth after an error and O’Brien’s double put two aboard. But pinch-hitter Jackson Cramer struck out before Constantini’s grounder to short ended it.
West Virginia, which stranded nine runners and 28 in the series, has scored three or fewer runs six times in its current seven-game slide.
Means was tagged for four runs, all earned, on 10 hits and two walks over 6 1/3 innings.
His leadoff walk to Kirsch in the fourth led to a run on Tim Proudfoot’s sac-fly. Kirsch also started the sixth with a single and later scored on a double play to make it 3-0.
Tech’s final run came in the seventh when Bryant Burleson tripled and scored on Nelsony’s single.
The Mountaineers, who wound up 0-12 against the top four seeds in the Big 12 tournament and 9-2 against teams that finished fifth or worst, open tourney play Wednesday against Kansas at 10 a.m.
The tourney bracket features two divisions of four teams, each playing a double-elimination format. The division winners face off Sunday in a single-game championship.