Baseball, Sports, WVU Sports

Oklahoma State finds it ‘heroes’ vs. Mountaineers in title game

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — West Virginia threatened an early uprising, only to see its fastest player bounce into a double play for the first time all season.

Marques Inman threatened to redirect momentum by jolting a fastball into the right-center gap, only to see Oklahoma State’s Cade Cabbiness pluck it out of the Oklahoma sky.

The No. 19 Mountaineers threatened to win the Big 12 baseball tournament Sunday but couldn’t convert opportunities, couldn’t throw a strike in one decisive inning, and couldn’t overtake the homestate mojo of No. 11 Oklahoma State.

Cowboys freshman Brett Standlee, forgetting a month’s worth of poor outings, kept West Virginia bottled up over seven innings in a 5-2 win at Bricktown Ballpark.

“When you get late in the tournament like this, and you have some attrition in the bullpen, you need to find heroes,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said of Standlee.

Standlee (3-1) allowed one run on seven hits over seven innings. He was held back for the final as Oklahoma State (36-18) rallied to beat TCU 7-6 in extra innings on Sunday morning.

“We used pretty much every arm in the bullpen before that game, so I knew I had to go as long as I could,” Standlee said.

West Virginia (37-20) had him endangered in the third inning after a leadoff hit from TJ Lake and bunt singles by Tevin Tucker and Tyler Doanes. But Standlee emerged with only a 1-0 deficit thanks to Brandon White being doubled up for the first time in 227 plate appearances this season.

Then Cowboys third baseman Christian Funk saved a second run with a barehanded pickup and one-hop throw to first on Darius Hill’s dribbler.

“It was a huge momentum-changer,” Standlee said.

West Virginia started Nick Snyder on three days’ rest and saw the left-hander tear through OSU for seven strikeouts in three innings. Game-planning for a pitch-count of 50, Snyder left in the fourth having thrown 61.

“If we weren’t fighting to host a regional, we could leave Snyder in there for the whole game,” Mazey said. “We took him out just when he usually starts to get good.”

Oklahoma State’s three-run fifth benefitted from WVU’s wildness. Madison Jeffrey (0-1) walked Jake Taylor, hit Hueston Morrill and walked Christian Funk to create a two-out pickle before Mazey went lefty-on-lefty by bringing in Zach Reid to face tournament MVP Colin Simpson.

Reid walked in the tying run on four pitches, and fell behind in the count when Andrew Navigato doubled off the top of the left-field wall — a drive Lake sized up for several seconds before making a futile leap.

As the ball ricocheted some 60 feet inward, White ranged over from centerfield and fired home to get Funk by inches. (Replays, which only showed Funk’s right hand and the catcher’s mitt of Ivan Gonzalez disappearing into a dirt cloud, could not overturn the out call.)

Doanes and White were aboard in the eighth when Hill grounded into a double play against Brady Basso.

After Peyton Battenfield entered, Inman crushed a drive that Cabbiness tracked down at full-speed, full-extension.

“Marques really juiced one, but their right fielder made a nice play out there,” Mazey said.

The Cowboys made it 4-1 with an unearned run in the eighth. Navigato reached on Andrew Zitel’s throwing error and scored on Carson McCusker’s two-out single to center. Again White made a pinpoint throw home but Gonzalez lost the ball on the tag.

Alex Garcia followed with an RBI single to make it a four-run cushion.

Paul McIntosh doubled in the ninth and scored on Kevin Brophy’s ground out for the Mountaineers, who placed White, Doanes, Alek Manoah and Ryan Bergert on the all-tournament team.

Oklahoma State, which won its second tournament title in three seasons, talked of stopping for ice cream on the bus ride back to Stillwater.

“I’m incredibly proud of these kids,” said Cowboys coach Josh Holliday. “It was a long, grueling tournament.”

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