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May 25, 2013

Musgrave, errors push WVU past TCU

OKLAHOMA CITY — In its second game of pool play at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, the West Virginia University baseball team trumped TCU, 10-3, as the Horned Frogs committed a Big 12 Championship record nine errors in the contest.

The nine errors broke the previous record of six held by Texas Tech versus Texas A&M (1998) and Texas A&M versus Texas (2004).

“They didn’t play a great game, but that doesn’t take anything away from the at bats we had against a really good pitcher,” coach Randy Mazey said. “I thought we went out there and battled against him pretty well. We went into it with a good game plan, and the guys executed it.”

Big 12 Pitcher of the Year Harrison Musgrave, who took the mound for the first time since striking out a career-high 14 batters in a complete-game shutout of the Horned Frogs on May 11, allowed two runs on six hits in seven innings of work. The six hits were the most Musgrave has allowed since his April 19 start against Texas, when he also gave up six hits.

“When they went to pool play, we had to go with some pitching matchups. Our guys felt that after we played TCU a couple of weeks ago, that they were the best team in the league,” Mazey said. “That’s why we lined it up to throw Harrison.

“If we did the opposite, beat Kansas and lost to TCU, because TCU beat Oklahoma State, we’d be out of it right now. Flip-flopping the pitchers worked to our advantage, and if a couple of things happen and we win (today), we go to the championship.”

WVU’s offensive attack was led by Billy Fleming and Jacob Rice, who had two hits apiece, and Ryan McBroom, who drove home three runs.

The Mountaineers jumped on TCU starter Brandon Finnegan early, as they were able to put a two-spot on the board in the opening frame. Fleming got the momentum started for WVU, as he launched a double deep into the left field gap. Fleming was pushed home after an error was committed on a high chopper by TCU second baseman Paul Hendrix. The error sent Rice, who singled after Fleming, to third base, where he later scored on a fielder’s choice to push the lead to 2-0.

WVU wasted little time in striking again against Finnegan, as it put two more runs on the board in the second inning to make it 4-0. With Matt Frazer at third and Taylor Munden at second, Fleming laced a single to the left side – his second hit of the game – to score the tandem.

Following Fleming’s single, a base hit by Rice chased Finnegan, as the sophomore lefty allowed four runs – three earned – on five hits and one walk in 1.2 innings of work.

The Mountaineers’ strong start went hand in hand with the early efforts of Musgrave, who began the game by retiring the first 10 batters he faced.

In the fourth inning, Musgrave ran into a bit of a jam, as he issued free passes to Keaton Jones and Brett Johnson. The sophomore lefty worked his way out of it, however, as he induced consecutive routine fly balls to center and left.

After loading the bases in the fifth inning and being unable to convert for runs, WVU loaded the bases on two occasions in the sixth inning. This time, though, it made TCU pay, as the Mountaineers notched three runs and sent nine batters to the plate. Four walks, two errors and one hit by pitch by Horned Frogs pitchers Justin Scharf and Tejay Antone aided the three-run rally for WVU.

The final three runs of the game for the Mountaineers came in the seventh inning, as McBroom doubled down the left field line to plate his second and third RBIs of the game. Finally, Ryan Tuntland scored after an error by the Horned Frogs’ Jones.

In its third and final game of pool play, the Mountaineers take on second-seeded Oklahoma State at 5 p.m. today at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.

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