OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Day 2 of the Big 12 tournament found West Virginia hoping to prop up its NCAA regional chances by knocking off second-seeded TCU.
The pitching matchup that looked like a ginormous mismatch—WVU running out spot starter Corey Walter (1-5, 4.62) against the Frogs’ Preston Morrison (8-3, 1.18 ERA), conference pitcher of the year—wasn’t so one-sided. At least not until late, when TCU rode a five-run eighth to pull away 6-2.
Walter got the call in order to avoid throwing Ross Vance on just five days’ rest after his 150-pitch outing last weekend.
Read the recap below for live updates throughout the game at sun-splashed Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark:
FINAL: TCU wins 6-2
In a most well-pitched game that only took 2 hours, 22 minutes, West Virginia couldn’t mount a ninth-inning rally. Morrison finished off a complete-game seven-hitter to send WVU into the elimination bracket.
The Mountaineers (28-25) must beat Baylor on Friday for a chance at a rematch against the Frogs.
BOTTOM 8th: TCU leads 6-2
At last, West Virginia broke through against Morrison. Justin Fox’s pinch-hit single, Cody Semler’s walk and Boyd’s bunt single loaded the bases with one out, preceding Billy Fleming’s sac-fly to left. McBroom added an RBI single to close the gap to 6-2.
Morrison, whose string of scoreless innings against WVU ended at 17 1/3, struck out Jacob Rice to strand two runners. His pitch count sits at an even 100 through eight innings.
TOP 8th: TCU leads 6-0
After issuing two walks and hitting a batter to fill the bases with one out, Walter got the second out on a fly to shallow right. He then came within an eyelash of escaping the inning on a borderline 3-2 pitch that Kevin Cron took for an RBI walk. That opened the floodgates.
Garrett Crain’s two-out pop fly down the right field line dropped between Ryan McBroom and right fielder Brad Johnson—a two-run double that should have been a routine out. Jerrick Suiter followed with a two-run single to right to blow it open.
Despite what was essentially an excellent outing, Walter’s final inning ruined his line: six runs allowed over 7 2/3 innings on four hits, five walks and three strikeouts.
BOTTOM 7th: TCU leads 1-0
It’s beginning to look like West Virginia might need a miracle or an error or both to make a dent against Morrison, who set down the Mountaineers in order in the seventh. He has thrown 61 of his 83 pitches for strikes and has plenty in the tank to chase his fourth shutout of the season.
TOP 7th: TCU leads 1-0
Three more groundouts for TCU batters and that makes 16 for Corey Walter, who has pitched his tail off for seven innings and could easily be twirling a shutout.
BOTTOM 6th: TCU leads 1-0
With one out, Boyd legged out an infield-chop single to give WVU another glimmer of a threat. But Morrison retired Fleming on a grounder and got McBroom to foul out to first base. That makes 15 scoreless innings for the TCU right-hander against West Virginia this season.
TOP 6th: TCU leads 1-0
Walter worked his third 1-2-3 inning of the day—this time with help from Boyd’s defense. The speedy center fielder covered seemingly an acre to make a diving catch on Boomer White’s shallow pop-fly.
BOTTOM 5th: TCU leads 1-0
With one out, Cam O’Brien shot a 2-2 pitch from Morrison into the right-center gap. Too bad for WVU that a case of catcher’s speed limited O’Brien to a double, because Jackson Cramer’s subsequent groundout might have scored O’Brien. As it played out, O’Brien was stranded at third when Michael Constantini popped softly to second base.
Morrison has allowed three hits over five innings, while striking out five and walking none. His pitch count stands at 63.
TOP 5th: TCU leads 1-0
Walter got himself into trouble by issuing a leadoff walk to Jerrick Suiter, but he also suffered some misfortune when the next batter, Dylan Fitzgerald, lofted a fly-ball double that center fielder Bobby Boyd couldn’t catch (the Frogs’ first hit). Boyd seemed to have the ball tracked for an over-the-shoulder catch only to have the ball pop out of his glove.
Kyle Bacak’s one-out single ultimately scored the game’s first run before Walter induced a 6-4-3 double play to strand a runner at third.
Walter has thrown 59 pitches—33 for strikes—while allowing two hits over five innings.
BOTTOM 4th: Tied 0-0
Billy Fleming collected West Virginia’s second hit with a one-out single to left, the second time he has taken a good swing against Morrison. But TCU’s ace got out of the inning on a grounder by Ryan McBroom and foul out by Rice.
TOP 3rd: Tied 0-0
Walter is off to a stellar start, no-hitting the Frogs through three innings. The right-hander has allowed a walk and hit one batter, but he’s keeping his team in the game early and doing everything Randy Mazey could have asked. He has thrown 37 pitches—20 for strikes—so far. It’s a long way to the finish line, but Walter is giving Morrison a pitchers’ duel so far.
BOTTOM 2nd: Tied 0-0
No runs to report for the Mountaineers, but there was a benchmark nonetheless as Jacob Rice singled to center with one out. That matches the number of hits WVU managed against Morrison on April 5 in Fort Worth, when he pitched a one-hitter in an 8-0 win.
BOTTOM 1st: Tied 0-0
TCU’s Morrison needed only seven pitches to get through a perfect first. On the one ball hit with any sharpness, the lanky Morrison speared Billy Fleming’s come-backer for the final out.
TOP 1st: Tied 0-0
TCU went three-up three-down against Walter, who also recorded a pair of strikeouts. The senior from Wheeling Park started only one Big 12 game this season, allowing four runs on four hits at Oklahoma on April 19—a game WVU rallied to win 9-5.