MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The blueprint for a turnaround weekend neared fruition. Up by three runs in the sixth inning, West Virginia possessed energy, optimism and leverage in the rubber game of its series against Oklahoma State.
That unraveled in the span of a few pitches for Braden Zarbnisky, and the bullpen ultimately surrendered a 6-4 loss Sunday with Oklahoma State scoring the go-ahead runs on consecutive passed balls.
The Mountaineers outhit OSU 35-26 over the weekend yet dropped two of three, stranding 10 baserunners in the finale.
“I’ll have to think about that one over dinner,” replied coach Randy Mazey when asked what positives his team could take away from the series. At 16-17 overall and 2-7 in the conference, West Virginia must make up some serious ground over the final five weeks of the regular season.
“I think the toughest part of our schedule is over,” Mazey said. “We’ve played three of the top four teams in the league.”
Oklahoma State catcher Colin Simpson pulled even for the league lead by hitting his 11th homer, a liner off the left-field foul pole in the fourth.
Still, Zarbnisky carried a three-hitter into the sixth when a 4-1 cushion quickly evaporated. Simpson yanked an RBI double into the right-field corner and Christian Funk lifted a two-run opposite-field shot over the OSU bullpen in left.
“Toward the end my velo started to drop,” said Zarbnisky, who threw 94 pitches. “That’s probably about all I had on the mound, but I’m going to give it everything I have every pitch.”
WVU reliever Jackson Wolf (1-1) opened the seventh by walking Trevor Boone and allowing Andrew Rosa’s double before OSU scored twice on consecutive passed balls by Chase Illig.
“Jackson Wolf really can sink his fastball and he was doing that,” Mazey said. “I don’t think there was any cross-up or anything, we just didn’t catch the ball.”
The Cowboys improved to 20-13-1 overall and 9-3 in the Big 12, with Peyton Battenfield (1-1) pitching four innings of shutout relief.
West Virginia took a 2-0 lead in the second inning when OSU shortstop Matt Kroon bobbled Jimmy Galusky’s infield single, allowing Inman and Andrew Zidel to score.
After Darius Hill’s lead-off triple in the third, WVU made it 3-0 via Inman’s groundout. Hill also started the fifth with a single and scored on Kyle Gray’s double.
Brandon White’s lunging catch on a liner to center field prevented an Oklahoma State run in the third.