OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – What was expected to be a pitching duel turned into a one-sided comedy of errors.
The third game Friday in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship matched West Virginia ace Harrison Musgrave against TCU's Brandon Finnegan. The Mountaineers rolled to a 10-3 victory as they created a traffic jam on the bases thanks to the Horned Frogs' myriad miscues.
TCU committed nine errors (a Championship and school record). West Virginia had eight hits, collected five walks and had four batters hit by pitch. Seventeen base runners plus nine extra outs added up to an ugly game.
Finnegan lasted just two outs into the second inning, his shortest outing of the season. That followed ace Preston Morrison's shortest outing in Thursday's opener. The Horned Frogs (29-27) were able to overcome that starter issue to rally past Oklahoma State.
"It's why this game is absolutely brutal," TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. "It can destroy you like tonight or make you joyous like last night. The past never equals the future in the game of baseball."
Ironically, the Horned Frogs' future in the Championship is still viable. Pool Two is jumbled and TCU still has a chance to reach Sunday's championship game.
Musgrave, the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, 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. He struck out the side in the bottom of the first to establish his presence with authority.
"I was concerned if I would find the strike zone after not playing for a while," he said. "Once I was able to find it, it made it a little better and I was able to settle in a little earlier than I thought I was going to be able to."
TCU's six hits were the most Musgrave has allowed since his April 19 start against Texas. The Horned Frogs' Paul Hendrix hit the second home run of the Championship and first Musgrave had allowed since March 8.
The Mountaineers scored two in the first and two in the second to give Musgrave an early cushion. They had three in the sixth and the seventh as the Frogs continued to kick it around like it was soccer.
"I guess today it seemed like it snow-balled, but it's all a mentality in my opinion," TCU shortstop Keaton Jones said. "We should make all of those plays. Once that first error hits, you have to get ready and refocused and move on to the next play. We didn't do that very well today."
West Virginia, picked to finish last in the conference, still has a chance to win Pool Two and advance to Sunday's championship game. A victory there would give the Mountaineers the Big 12's NCAA tournament automatic bid.
"I think every time we played a conference game, it's like we go out there to prove something," Mazey said. "There is no better motivation for everybody on the other side of the field to think you are the worst team in the league. The way we have played, we have proven that we are not the worst team in the league."