Baseball, Sports, WVU Sports

Notebook: Manoah edges Kilian in another Big 12 pitcher’s duel


OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Top-seeded Texas Tech had its chances against Alek Manoah, putting the leadoff batter aboard five times through six innings. 

But the Big 12 pitcher of the year ultimately limited the Big 12’s best offense by stranding eight baserunners, and fourth-seeded West Virginia used some late-innings offense to seal a 5-1 win. 

“It’s frustrating, but on the other side of it, they made some plays,” said Red Raiders All-American shortstop Josh Jung. “They took some runs off the board.”

Texas Tech, which owns the Big 12’s highest-scoring lineup at 7.9 runs per game, has averaged 1.7 runs while going 1-3 against West Virginia this season.

“We ran Manoah’s pitch-count up to 75 in the fifth with a 25-pitch inning,” Raiders coach Tim Tadlock said. “If we could’ve had one more of those, you’d think you could get him out. Then again he threw 126, so maybe not. He made pitches through the eighth.”

In fact, Manoah recorded his ninth and 10th strikeouts in his final inning.

“He’s a tough kid,” said Tadlock.

Texas Tech starter Caleb Kilian — having yielded only six hits in his last 22 innings against WVU — nearly matched Manoah. He admitted to being juiced for the high-profile matchup “because you know there’s going to be a dude on the other side, and it gives you something to compete with.”

Manoah gave up one earned run or less for the seventh time in his last eight starts.

Said West Virginia coach Randy Mazey: “With AK versus Kilian, we knew the over-under was going to be low for this game.”

Kilian’s only moment of weakness surfaced in the fourth inning when Darius Hill’s long fly ball bounced on the warning track for an RBI-triple. It essentially became a two-run mistake when Hill scored on Marques Inman’s sac-fly.

“I left the slider up, and it got hit,” Kilian said. “I made a mistake and just tried to do my best to get past that.”

Watching the numbers

Bolstered by a six-game winning streak, West Virginia’s RPI climbed to 11th late Thursday night, helping its case to become one of 16 NCAA regional hosts. … The Mountaineers improved to 12-10 all-time at the Big 12 tournament. They play again Saturday at 10 a.m. Eastern against the Texas Tech-Kansas survivor.

Line-drive hits pitcher

Tadlock wasn’t immediately sure about the status of reliever Ryan Kessee, who absorbed Kevin Brophy’s line drive off his knee.

“We really don’t know yet,” he said. “It hit him underneath the knee.”

No-quit Jayhawks

A day after Kansas nearly dug out of a 9-1 hole against West Virginia, the Jayhawks actually completed a comeback.

And it temporarily salvaged their season.

Facing elimination in the bottom of the 11th, Kansas reeled off five straight hits and scored four runs to stun K-State 15-14.

“One of the greatest games I’ve ever been a part of,” said Jayhawks coach Ritch Price, whose team likely needs to win the Big 12 tournament to earn an NCAA bid. 

K-State’s season ended with a 25-33 mark.

TCU’s big, big inning

In a record-setting half-inning that seemingly lasted forever, the Frogs scored 14 times during the bottom of the fourth against Oklahoma.

“It was one guy feeding off another,” catcher Zach Humphreys said after TCU’s 15-3 win. “You see what’s happening and you want to get in on the fun.”

Humphreys had an RBI single and a two-run homer in the inning. To recap the total carnage:  TCU batted around twice, collecting three homers, two triples and two doubles among 11 hits overall.

The loss might prove devastating for the Sooners (33-23), who were outscored 25-5 in OKC and may have squandered their chance to make an NCAA regional.

Oklahoma coach Skip Johnson lobbied for a postseason bid nonetheless.

“We are truly the No. 2 conference in the nation,” he said. “Our pitching staff can put up with a lot of people. Our confidence is really good one through nine.

The Frogs (30-25) play Friday against the Oklahoma State-Baylor loser. 

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