Is WVU baseball still an NCAA Tournament team after an early exit from Big 12s? – The Gold and Blue Nation Podcast
West Virginia’s postseason fate is now in the hands of the committee.
The Mountaineers were eliminated from the Big 12 Tournament after taking their second straight loss in the event, this time 8-5 to Kansas State. This marks the second time WVU has been eliminated from the tournament after two straight losses since joining the Big 12.
Starting pitching was once again the difference in this contest as Ben Hampton got off to a shaky start for the Mountaineers, but survived five full frames allowing four runs on six hits with five strikeouts.
“Today just didn’t work out for us,” said WVU coach Randy Mazey. “I say Ben’s not the happy guy up here because he wasn’t too happy to come out of the game, and that’s why I love Ben because I wouldn’t want to coach a guy that’s happy to come out of a game. He’s a great competitor and wanted to go through the order one more time.”
K-State attacked Hampton early, adding two runs in the top of the first. Nick Goodwin started it off with an RBI double, shortly before crossing the plate from a single by Dylan Phillips. Hampton struggled again in the second when he walked in a run with two outs, growing the deficit to three runs in favor of the Wildcats.
West Virginia made up that difference in the bottom of the third inning with back-to-back-to-back RBI singles from McGwire Holbrook, Braden Barry and Dayne Leonard. The tie didn’t last long, however, as K-State score four straight runs between the fifth and seventh frames to snatch the lead back.
Victor Scott II added another run in the seventh to cut into the lead once again, this time bringing the deficit to three runs and spoiling a potential quality start for Bryce Adams.
Adams (6-6) still took the victory in the game, more than making up for his shaking showing in Morgantown. He allowed four runs on six hits with nine strikeouts. Hampton (8-5) took the loss for the Mountaineers.
“I think we understood what we could get each hitter out with and unfortunately I didn’t have a pitch that was really getting them out today,” Hampton said. “If I did, I think the score would have been different.”
K-State sealed the victory in the top of the ninth with a perfectly-executed series of bunts, moving Raphael Pelletier from second to the plate and giving the Wildcats an extra run of insurance. JJ Wetherholt added an RBI in the bottom of the frame for WVU, but the Mountaineers could not overcome the four-run deficit.
Phillips started at first base for K-State and finished 3-for-5 with two RBIs. He also took the mound in the ninth and earned the save, retiring the last three Mountaineer batters with one strikeout.
Cash Rugely went 1-for-3 with two RBIs, but both of those runs came on walks. Dominic Johnson had a homer in the sixth inning, one of KSU’s four extra-base hits.
All of WVU’s six hits came from different hitters. Scott was the only Mountaineer to log an extra-base hit with his RBI double.
West Virginia still has high hopes for the postseason despite the disappointing performance in the Big 12 Tournament.
“I just told the guys, don’t anybody leave this huddle thinking the season’s over,” Mazey said. “As good as we’ve played this year, I think we’ve put ourselves in a position to play in the postseason. If we don’t, somebody’s going to have to really explain to me how that happened.”
Entering the conference tournament, WVU was largely projected to slot in as a 3-seed at either the Louisville Regional or the Blacksburg Regional, which is hosted by Virginia Tech. The selection show is set for noon ET on Monday and it will be shown on ESPN2.