Baseball, WVU Sports

Oklahoma State wins 2-1 pitchers’ duel, as Aidan Major takes tough loss

GRANVILLE — If Aidan Major had been participating in March Madness on Friday night, his stat line would read 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

And it would have come with the disappointment of still watching the other team advance to the next round.

Major was fantastic, but Oklahoma State’s Sam Garcia was just one pitch better, as the Cowboys took the first game of a three-game series in a classic 2-1 pitchers’ duel inside Kendrick Family Ballpark.


“That was the bright spot of the day,” WVU head coach Randy Mazey said of Major. “We still haven’t reached the halfway point of the season, but I wanted to make sure he was going to be our guy on the mound. He proved that tonight.”

In doing so, Major came up with his best performance in a WVU uniform. The junior went eight innings, gave up six hits, two runs and struck out a career-high 13.

On the other side was Garcia, a senior from Wilmington, N.C., who got 15 consecutive outs at one point, the last five coming with strikeouts.

If Major was dominant, Garcia was golden, which did not come as any surprise to Mazey.

“There in the top 10 in the nation in pitching for a reason,” he said.

The Cowboys (17-9, 4-3 Big 12) have thrived on the mound all season, one of just 25 teams in the country with a team ERA of under 4.00.

“If we’re going to win games, we have to beat good pitchers,” Mazey said. “That’s what they did tonight. They beat a really good pitcher and we didn’t. Those guys have elite pitching over there. The bad news is, their guy (pitching today, Brian Holiday) is better than their guy tonight.”

Garcia went seven innings to pick up his third win of the season. He allowed three hits, one run and struck out 11.

He walked no one.

The only mistake Major made was a solo home run by Colin Brueggemann in the top of the second.

“That was one of the only mistakes Aidan made all night,” Mazey said. “That’s why they are who they are.”
Major gave up a second run in the sixth inning, after Carson Benge doubled and scored on Zach Ehrhard’s double.

WVU (15-11, 4-3), which saw their three-game winning streak come to an end, made things interesting late.

Grant Hussey belted a 414-foot solo home run in the seventh that landed in the clubhouse patio in right field.

It was his sixth of the season and the 31st of his career. Hussey is now just five home runs from setting the school’s all-time mark.

In the eighth, and now facing the Cowboys’ bullpen, Skylar King beat out an infield single and advanced to second on a foul out behind the plate.

Sam White struck out, but advanced to first on a throwing error.

“Whenever it’s a tight game like that, at-bats become tougher,” WVU infielder Reed Chumley said. “Pitching becomes tougher. It’s a matter of who can be the most calm in the most high-leveraged situation.”

On this night, it was the Cowboys.

Benge came in from right field and earned his second save of the season. He finished off the eighth with two strikeouts and then sent the Mountaineers down in order in the ninth.

“We didn’t adjust,” Mazey said. “If we had adjusted, we would have done something other than what we did.”

Game 2 of the series is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday, with WVU going with Derek Clark on the mound.