Arlington, TX - Less than a week removed from ending the regular season with a three-game sweep of the Kansas State Wildcats, outscoring K-State 35-9 in the series, the West Virginia Mountaineers (33-22) recorded three errors and just six hits in the 8-5 loss to the Wildcats (28-28) Thursday afternoon, eliminating the Mountaineers from the Big 12 Championship.
Kansas State leadoff hitter Dominic Johnson singled to begin the game, then Nick Goodwin drove an RBI double into left-centerfield and Dylan Phillips snuck an RBI single through the infield as the Wildcats jumped out to a 2-0 lead.
West Virginia starting pitcher Ben Hampton gave up a leadoff double to Kaelen Culpepper before walking three Wildcats hitters to give Kansas State another run in the second inning.
The Mountaineers manufactured three runs in the third to tie the game. Tevin Tucker led off the inning with a deep ground ball in the hole between short and proceeded to make his way to third on two wild pitches. Then, Victor Scott worked a two-out walk before three consecutive RBI singles from McGwire Holbrook, Braden Barry and Dayne Leonard knotted the game a three.
Kansas State reclaimed the lead in the fifth when Phillips delivered another leadoff single, Ben Hampton hit Josh Nicoloff with a pitch and Justin Mitchell smacked an RBI single through the left side to take a 4-3 advantage.
Mountaineers' reliever Noah Short took the mound in the sixth and Dominic Johnson led off the inning with a well struck solo home run over the left field wall. Cash Rugely singled and Nick Goodwin moved him to second with a sacrifice groundball, then Phillips brought Rugely in, dropping a line drive in to left field as the Wildcats added to their lead, 6-3. West Virginia head coach Randy Mazey pulled Short and called in Chase Smith, and he'd get out of the inning on a double play.
After recording two quick outs to begin the seventh, consecutive singles and an intentional walk put Smith in a bind, and it took eight pitches to Rugely to earn the RBI walk as the Wildcats were on the brink of breaking the game open, holding a 7-3 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh and with two outs, J.J. Wetherholt was hit by a pitch before Victor Scott drove a double off the right field wall to get the Mountaineers back within three, 7-4.
Kansas State extended its lead back to four in the ninth after Nicoloff doubled off reliever Trey Braithwaite, then Justin Mitchell laid down a sacrifice bunt, moving Nicoloff to third and Raphael Pelletier perfectly executed the squeeze play to give K-State an 8-4 advantage.
J.J. Wetherholt hit a sacrifice fly to left field in the bottom of the inning to give WVU a run but that's all the Mountaineers could bring across as WVU drops the elimination game 8-5.
After falling 6-4 in the opening round, it's the first time since 2015 WVU was held winless in the Big 12 Championship and just the second time in program history.
West Virginia will now await its postseason fate with the NCAA tournament release set for Monday May 30.
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