TCU’s bats were quiet through eight in Morgantown Friday night, as Mountaineer pitcher BJ Myers kept his visitors off balance in an exceptional performance to open up a three game set with the number three ranked team in the country. Riding a 13 game winning streak into their second conference road series of the season, the Frogs couldn’t get anything going after the first inning against Myers, and find themselves behind in a series for the first time all season.
To this point of the season, having sophomore Jared Janczak on the mound was enough for TCU, as the sophomore righty has been literally un-hittable in the early innings this year. But he ‘struggled’ Friday night, turning in merely a mortal performance against the team chasing the Frogs in the standings and hitting at a rate better than their opponents to this point. Janczak took the mound with a lead for once, but couldn’t hold it, allowing WVU to tie things up in the bottom of the frame. A two run fourth but TCU in a hole they wouldn’t recover from, and an RBI single an inning later chased Janczak from the mound, as he was subbed for freshman Charles King.
JJ was probably due for an average night; after throwing near no-hitters against Kansas and Kansas State, he allowed four runs on six hits Friday, striking out six and walking two in the team’s loss, though he would not be saddled with the L. With the way the Frogs have been hitting, a little run support could be expected, but BJ Myers out-dueled TCU’s ace with an 8.1 inning effort, allowing just five hits, two runs, striking out six Frogs, and walking just one. He stifled an offense that has averaged seven runs a game - only Luken Baker and Evan Skoug had an extra base hits against him - an RBI double for Baker in the first and a solo shot by Skoug, who tried to get a rally going with his lead off home run in the ninth. TCU has had a flair for late-game heroics lately, and tried more of the same in Morgantown. After Skoug’s blast, Baker struck out, but Josh Watson chased Myers with a one out single a batter later. Braden Zarbnisky got the call, looking for his second save of the season, but he would still be looking after a furious rally sent nine TCU hitters to the plate in a three run frame. Nolan Brown was the next man up, singling to right to put runners at first and second. After Elliott Barzilli popped up to the pitcher, Ryan Merrill singled to right to bring Josh Watson home and cut the deficit to one. Connor Wanhanen walked on a full count a batter later to load them up, and the Frogs tied the game on a wild pitch during Austen Wade’s AB, prior to him walking to load them up once again. Cam Warner grounded out to first to end the frame, but it was a whole new ball game heading to the bottom of the ninth.
The Frogs turned to Sean Wymer to give them a chance in extra innings, and he promptly surrendered a lead-off double on a full count. A sacrifice put the winning run at third base with just one out, and the Frogs chose to play the odds by intentionally walking Gray to set up a potential double play. But, after falling behind the two-hole hitter, the Frogs elected not to issue an intentional walk, and Gonzalez was able to knock in the game-winner with a sac fly, accounting for the 5-4 final.
The loss is the Frogs first since the rubber match against Kansas in the opening series of conference play, nearly a month ago. WVU cuts the Frogs Big 12 lead to just one game with two to play in the series. The two teams will square off once again tomorrow at 3:00pm.