WVU Battles Back for Win

Heading into the seventh inning, things were looking down for West Virginia.

In a game that the Mountaineers needed in order to get some confidence back, back-to-back four-run innings by Kansas put them face to face with an 8-2 deficit with time running out.

Then, for the first time in a while, a break went West Virginia's way when Kansas third baseman Aaron Hernandez bobbled a grounder with one out and the bases loaded that could have been an inning-ending double play ball.

The inning stayed alive, Billy Fleming made it to first on the RBI fielder's choice and the door was wide open for a WVU rally. Four consecutive hits later, the Mountaineers had found a way to complete the comeback when freshman designated hitter Jackson Cramer's three-run home run - the first of his WVU career - gave them a 10-8 lead.

West Virginia then went on to navigate its way through the final inning and a half en route to a 10-9 win against the Jayhawks in the first round of the Big 12 Conference tournament.

"When we got down 8-2, the guys got together in the dugout and said, 'Hey, we've been here, done that. It just takes one spark to get it rolling," said WVU head coach Randy Mazey. "And we sure did that in fine fashion."

It was a game of runs, as the Mountaineers had momentum early on after picking up a couple of runs in the first inning. Jacob Rice got it started with an RBI single that brought Billy Fleming in to score before the senior left fielder got in a rundown that allowed Ryan McBroom to get home from third to give WVU a 2-0 lead after the top of the first.

From there, once he settled into a groove after a couple walks got him in a jam in the first inning, WVU starter Harrison Musgrave seemed to get back to being the pitcher he's been most of the season early on.

The junior southpaw surrendered just three hits in the first four innings and was able to command his stuff pretty well.

In the fifth, all the good things going on for WVU came to a halt. The bats had been struggling to get around on KU starter Jordan Piche and then the Jayhawk lineup started to get to Musgrave as well.

The result ended with WVU suffering through allowing Kansas to score eight runs in two innings to take an 8-2 lead before finding a way to score eight of their own in the seventh.

"Today was just a struggle all the way around," Musgrave said following just his second of the season in which he did not pitch at least six innings.

"The first inning (it felt like I) walked 12 people. But I really just had a fastball today, and they were sitting on it. It's easy to hit one pitch."

The Jayhawks recorded nine of their 13 hits in those two innings against Musgrave and reliever Ryan Tezak - who was the game's winning pitcher despite two runs in 0.1 innings pitched.

After the Mountaineers were able to come back and take the lead, Mazey handed the ball to Pascal Paul and Sean Carley to get the final nine outs of the game, with Carley recording his fourth save of the season in two innings. The save against Kansas came less than two weeks after the junior blew his first save of the season after allowing three eight inning runs to Kansas to a loss that started WVU's seven-game slide to end the regular season.

"Being a closer, it's a little bit different than being a starter. When you have a rough outing it usually ends in a loss," Carley said. "You've got to be able to flush it and be ready the next day to throw for your squad."

Fleming, McBroom, Rice, Cramer and Brad Johnson all had at least two hits Wednesday - accounting for 11 of WVU's 13 hits.

"A lot of teams would just fold in that position today," Fleming said. "Every hit just seemed to give us more confidence."

The Mountaineers will take on the winner of TCU vs. Baylor Thursday at 5 p.m. EST.

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