Baseball, Sports, WVU Sports

Another quick exit: Kansas State eliminates WVU from Big 12 tournament

MORGANTOWN — A glimmer of hope was quickly followed by disaster Wednesday, and the WVU baseball team continued to play its same old tune in the Big 12 tournament since it was moved to Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

Kansas State — a team the Mountaineers took 2 of 3 games from just two weeks ago — scored seven runs in the fourth inning and eliminated WVU with an 8-4 victory.


The Mountaineers (33-22) were sent packing back to Morgantown after going 0-2 in the Big 12 tournament for a third-consecutive season, which covers the time the tournament was moved from Oklahoma City to the home of the Texas Rangers.

WVU has been outscored 36-19 in those six defeats.

This season, or so it was thought, would be different. The Mountaineers had spent an entire regular season slugging its way past Big 12 competition, setting a school record for home runs along the way.

WVU, which was the No. 4 seed after winning 19 league games during the regular season, also entered the tournament with a healthy lineup after hitters J.J. Wetherholt and Logan Sauve had missed considerable amounts of time with injuries.

Kansas State (32-23) simply didn’t care about any of that.

Wildcats’ starter Owen Boerema, a left-handed graduate student, didn’t care much either, especially after he survived a first inning that saw WVU open the game with three runs.

That was the glimmer of hope that WVU would suddenly turn its fortunes around.

Wetherholt and Sauve both had singles and Reed Chumley was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Brody Kresser scored two with a single and Sam White drove in a third run with a sacrifice fly.

Three innings later, those hopes were snuffed out.

At the very least, the disappointment could be softened if K-State simply came out and began to smash the ball around the park, but that’s not exactly what happened.

WVU used four pitchers to finally get out of the inning. Those four pitchers combined for six walks — two with the bases loaded — and a wild pitch that scored another run.

Kansas State needed only four hits — three singles and a double from Brady Day — to get those seven runs.

“I thought we actually hit the ball better throughout the course of the game than they did,” WVU head coach Randy Mazey said. “We hit a lot of balls in the middle of the game really hard, but they were caught. They hit all their hard-hit balls in one inning.”

And that was all that was needed, as Boerema was dominant after the first inning. He pitched a complete game, allowed four runs on seven hits and struck out 10.

Meanwhile, six different WVU pitchers combined to walk 11, while giving up seven hits.

It all led to another promising WVU regular season once again fizzling out in Arlington.

This one came with Mazey electing not to pitch his best pitcher, Derek Clark.

The all-Big 12 first-team starter was held out Wednesday, which would have been four days of rest after pitching last Friday against TCU.

“If I didn’t feel confident that we were going to be playing next weekend (NCAA tournament), you would have saw Derek Clark today,” Mazey said. “It’s a pretty good feeling that you still have next weekend to play.”

Once upon a time, the Mountaineers were a tough out in the Big 12 tournament when it was previously played in Oklahoma City.

Since moving to Globe Life Field, it’s become a different story for Mazey, who will retire at the end of this season, and the Mountaineers.

WVU struck out a combined 23 times in its two losses against TCU and K-State in the tournament, while getting just 10 hits.

Against TCU, “We obviously had three hits, and you’re not going to win many games doing that,” WVU second baseman Brodie Kresser said. “It was better today, but they weren’t really dropping for us.”

Kansas State advances to a second elimination game at 10 a.m. Thursday, against the loser of the Oklahoma-TCU game.

WVU returns to Morgantown awaiting its fate for the NCAA tournament during Monday’s selection show, which begins at noon on ESPN2.

Projections still have WVU playing in the NCAA tournament, but another poor showing in the Big 12 tourney could knock WVU down to a No. 3 seed or still as a No. 2 seed, but now in a regional hosted by one of the top-ranked teams in the country.

It would be WVU’s 15th appearance in the NCAA tournament, and its first time playing in consecutive NCAAs since playing in four in a row from 1961-64.

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