MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Trying to climb out of the Big 12 basement, West Virginia could only practice the power of positive thinking despite a 7-4 loss to Oklahoma State on Friday night.
West Virginia (15-16, 1-6) saw its four-game winning streak snapped despite bringing the tying run to the plate in each of the final three innings. Kyle Gray’s 4-for-5 night included a solo homer as the Mountaineers out-hit the Cowboys 11-8.
“On paper we lost tonight, but they had a few good hits when it was crunch time that dictated the final score,” Gray said. “We’re going to come together and eventually get the result we want. I don’t think we’re pressing too much.”
Gray’s single put two runners aboard in the ninth before Oklahoma State (19-12-1, 8-2) escaped when C.J. Varela got the final two outs for his first save.
Game 2 of the weekend series comes Saturday at Mon County Ballpark
Michael Neustifter’s first homer of the season, a three-run shot after Shane Ennis issued back-to-back walks, put OSU ahead 4-2 in the third. That foiled the first start of the season for Ennis (4-3), who was making his 17th appearance.
Oklahoma State stretched its lead to 7-2 in the fourth against reliever B.J. Myers when catcher Colin Simpson blasted a three-run homer to left-center. Simpson got a chance to bat with two outs after second baseman Kyle Gray’s error botched a potential double-play.
Trailing 7-4, Gray was victimized by a bizarre call in the seventh when he pulled a two-out single through the right side only to see first-base umpire Shawn Arthur rule that the ball struck baserunner Darius Hill. Replays clearly showed Hill dodged it.
After Mazey sought an explanation, the umpiring crew huddled and wound up sending Hill to second base on a balk, while Gray returned to the box with the previous 0-2 count. He bounced out two pitches later.
“You have the choice of the balk or the play. If the first-base umpire had said the ball didn’t hit Darius, we’d have had first-and-third,” Mazey said. “Just a bad break.”
When WVU loaded the bases in the eighth, Mazey called on pinch-hitter Alek Manoah, who fell to 1-for-12 this season by striking out.
“Kind of playing for a home run right there, I guess,” Mazey said. “The chance of Brandon White hitting one out is way less than Manoah hitting one out just because of the sheer size of ‘em.”
Oklahoma State’s Brady Basso (2-3) tossed 4 1/3 innings of scoreless middle relief by navigating five hits and four walks.
Hill’s triple in the first tied the game at 1-1 and Marques Inman followed by putting a 1-2 pitch in play for an RBI groundout.
New motion for Myers
Myers struck out nine batters in five innings and lowered his ERA to 5.08, a promising outing aside from the three unearned runs on the homer.
“You throw a bunch of pitches and only throw one bad one, that’s a really good night,” Mazey said.
The senior right-hander, who began the season as WVU’s No. 1 starter, hasn’t allowed an earned run in 11 2/3 innings since being shuttled to the bullpen. Most notably he has begun utilizing a side-armed delivery.
“I’ve messed around with it in the past — just having fun with it — but I never thought I’d actually do it in a game,” he said.