Mountaineers miss opportunities in series opener at TCU

FORT WORTH, Texas – The West Virginia University baseball team saw its opportunity to seize the Big 12 Conference Tournament’s No. 2 seed — and accompanying first-round bye — slip farther away on Thursday night at Lupton Stadium.

The Mountaineers (31-20, 17-11 Big 12) couldn’t capitalize on several opportunities in a 6-3 loss to host TCU (31-17, 14-14) in a crucial final series of the regular season.

Those missed chances were never more apparent than when the Mountaineers loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the eighth inning. Horned Frogs junior southpaw pitcher Payton Tolle had just left the game after throwing seven innings and allowing two runs on five hits.

Trailing 6-2 at the time, WVU sophomore outfielder Sam White struck out and senior third baseman Reed Chumley, a native Texan, hit a sacrifice fly, while junior first baseman Grant Hussey grounded out to curtail a potential rally.

The loss snapped WVU’s four-game winning streak in the series against the Horned Frogs, who now lead the overall series, 25-11. The Mountaineers dropped to 3-10 all-time in Fort Worth.

TCU, which both won the Big 12 Tournament and reached the College World Series last season, struggled early in Big 12 action. The Frogs have been on a surge recently, qualifying for next week’s Big 12 Conference Tournament at Globe Life Field in  Arlington – located just 20 miles east of their campus.

WVU started the Big 12 slate strong but could slip as far back as the No. 6 seed in the tournament, without scoring at least one victory over the next two days at TCU.

After a 90-minute delayed start due to stormy weather earlier in the day, the Horned Frogs jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two innings. TCU recorded seven of its nine hits against WVU senior starting pitcher Hayden Cooper. Cooper (1-4) allowed a total of five runs over 3.2 innings.

The Mountaineers made history in the top of the third inning when sophomore outfielder Ben Lumsden hit a solo home run. Lumsden’s homer tied the WVU single-season record for home runs (81), which was set last season.  WVU will have two more regular season games to set a new record. 

WVU scored its second run of the game on a fielder’s choice in the fifth inning by sophomore catcher Logan Sauve.

Sauve was the only Mountaineer to have multiple hits — he went 2-for-4, accounting for a third of WVU’s hits in the game.

TCU junior southpaw Payton Tolle allowed just two runs over seven innings.

The teams will meet for the second game of the series at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Lupton Stadium.