West Virginia unable to slow Texas in 10-4 loss; Mountaineers secure share of Big 12 championship

For the second straight day, West Virginia suffered a lopsided loss at Texas.

However, the Mountaineers were able to take some solace in Friday’s 10-4 defeat to the Longhorns at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. With Oklahoma’s 5-0 victory over Oklahoma State, sixth-ranked West Virginia clinched at least a share of the Big 12 Championship for the first time.

West Virginia (39-15, 15-8) can win the conference outright by avoiding a sweep and winning the 3:30 p.m. series finale Saturday. If Texas completes the sweep, the Longhorns (37-18, 14-9) are co-champions of the Big 12 and the top seed in next week’s conference tournament regardless of the outcome of Oklahoma State’s rubber match Saturday with the Sooners. 

If Texas and Oklahoma State win Saturday, that creates a three-way tie with West Virginia and the Longhorns and Cowboys each 15-9 in Big 12 play. Texas would be the No. 1 seed in the Big 12 Tournament based on its 4-2 combined record against the Mountaineers and Cowboys. Oklahoma State, at 3-3, would be the No. 2 seed, and with a 2-4 mark, the Mountaineers would be the No. 3 seed.

Although WVU took its first lead of the series Friday on Landon Wallace’s 10th home run this season in the first inning, the advantage was short-lived.

Blaine Traxel, the Mountaineers’ top starting pitcher for much of the 2023 season, allowed four first-inning runs and three more in the second as Texas built a sizable early advantage for the second consecutive day.  

The Longhorns got a run-scoring double from Dylan Campbell to tie the game at 1, before going on top for good courtesy of a Garret Guillemette sacrifice fly. Later in the first, Eric Kennedy belted a two-run home run to right field that left the Mountaineers facing a 4-1 deficit.

In the second inning, the Longhorns got a two-run home run from Jared Thomas, before a solo blast from Campbell made it 7-1.

Braden Barry’s RBI single in the third allowed WVU to trail by five, but the Longhorns regained their six-run lead in the fourth on Brown’s run-scoring single.

Peyton Powell’s solo home run in the sixth made it two straight contests for Texas with four home runs against West Virginia. 

Jack O’Dowd added a run-scoring single in the seventh for a 10-2 advantage, before the Mountaineers’ Sam White drove in two runs with a ninth-inning single in his first and only at bat of the game.

Traxel fell to 7-5 with eight runs allowed over five innings. He was tagged for nine hits, issued one walk and struck out three.

Caleb McNeely led the Mountaineers with two doubles.

Thomas, Powell and Campbell — Texas’ first three hitters in the lineup — each had two hits and combined to score seven runs and drive in five.

Lebarron Johnson struck out 11 over 5 1/3 innings, while limiting the Mountaineers to two runs on five hits. He earned the win to improve to 7-2.

Elsewhere in Big 12 play Friday, TCU topped Kansas State 8-1. That result ensures that the Wildcats, at 13-10 in the Big 12, cannot claim a league championship.

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