MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — No. 22 Oklahoma still has its mojo when it comes to beating West Virginia.
The Sooners struck for two early runs against Alek Manoah and held on for a 2-1 series-opening win Friday night, their sixth straight over the Mountaineers dating back to 2017.
West Virginia (14-11, 0-4) remained winless in Big 12 action this season despite putting the potential tying and go-ahead runs aboard in the ninth against Oklahoma closer Jason Ruffcorn. Tevin Tucker and Tyler Doanes drew two-out walks before Brandon White’s chopper to third secured Ruffcorn’s seventh save.
While the Mountaineers left 10 runners aboard, the league-leading Sooners (22-5, 4-0) stranded 11 — leaving the bases jammed in the top of the ninth when Tristen Hudson recorded three outs on nine pitches to preserve a one-run deficit.
Darius Hill had two hits for West Virginia, which fell to 6-1 at home this season and 1-4 in one-run games.
“We pitched pretty well and they pitched pretty well,” West Virginia coach Randy Mazey said. “We scratched and clawed there in the last couple innings with guys on base, but we just couldn’t get the big hit when we needed it.”
During a 113-pitch effort, the right-hander Manoah (3-2) allowed only three hits over 7 1/3 innings but ultimately was undone by giving up two runs in the top of the second. A four-pitch leadoff walk and Conner McKenna’s one-out double set the table for Justin Mitchell’s sac-fly and Brady Harlan’s RBI single.
“If he only gives up two runs every time he pitches, then we’re going to win most of those games,” Mazey said. “He’s a warrior. When you go out to take him out of the game you’ve got a dang fight on your hands. He’s such a competitor, he’s got a loti of pride, and when he gives up two runs he takes that pretty personal.”
Cade Cavalli (4-1) fanned eight over five-plus innings for the Sooners, though his his ERA climbed two-hundredths of a point to 1.66.
West Virginia’s bases-loaded, no-out threat against Cavalli in the sixth netted only one run thanks to Oklahoma’s bullpen. Reliever Ledgend Smith induced Kevin Brophy’s double-play grounder and Wyatt Olds struck out Ivan Gonzalez.
“I think that was one of the best outings Cade had all year, and he was in control of himself,” said Oklahoma coach Skip Johnson. “The bullpen came in and did a good job, and we made some great plays on defense.”
Two Mountaineers runners were aboard in the seventh when Tucker was tagged out over-sliding third base on a double steal.
It was the 12th time this season that Oklahoma has held an opponent to one run or fewer. The Sooners’ team ERA of 2.56 is more than a half-run lower than the Big 12’s next best staff.