By Michael Kinney
OKLAHOMA CITY — WVU knew Colin Simpson had game. The Oklahoma State catcher had terrorized the Mountaineers during their three game series this season.
So it wasn’t a total shock to WVU coach Randy Mazey when Simpson exploded against the Mountaineers on May 25 in the Big 12 Championship tournament. Simpson accounted for 5 RBIs, 3 runs scored and two homers to lead Oklahoma State to an 8-4 victory over WVU at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
“When we left Stillwater earlier this year, we gave their catcher the nickname Homer Simpson,” Mazey said. “And he lived up to the billing today. He is just real comfortable at the plate against us. The guy has killed us.”
The loss drops West Virginia into the losers bracket of the tournament. They will face top-seed Texas Tech at 4:15 p.m. Friday. The winner advances while the loser will be heading home.
“This is when you get tested,” Mazey said. “We talked about it all year long. You get in conference tournaments, playing a lot of games in a short period of time. It really tests your bullpen and your pitching staff.”
In order for WVU to make it back to the Big 12 Championship game, they can’t have another performance like they did against OSU.
The Cowboys jumped all over Mountaineers starting pitcher BJ Myers from the outset. Simpson belted a 2-run homer to centerfield in the top of the first to give OSU a 2-0 lead.
WVU started to get to Oklahoma State’s Tyler Buffett in the bottom of the second when they loaded the bases. Brandon White and Kyle Gray each had a chance to do some serious damage for WVU, but Buffett was able to snuff out the threat and Oklahoma State kept its 2-0 advantage.
Mazey pulled Myers to start of the third inning and brought in Sam Kessler. The was the shortest out of the season for Myers.
Kessler allowed one run to cross before getting out of the inning.
WVU played small ball to get on the scoreboard in the fourth. After Braden Zarbnisky reached first, he stole second base. Chase Illig advanced him to third before White brought him home with a ground out to the right side of the field.
After Oklahoma State pulled ahead 5-1, West Virginia got one of those runs back when Zarbnisky picked up an RBI in the bottom of the inning. His four hits on the night set a new team record at the Big 12 tourney.
“It’s just being confident,” Zarbnisky said. “Working on my hitting, keep on driving the ball. Don’t let the pitcher out think you”
The Cowboys began to put the game out of reach in the sixth. Simpson hit his second home run of the night to put OSU up 8-2.
The Mountaineers Darius Hill closed the gap with an RBI single. That was enough to send Buffett to the bench and relieved by Cole Hearrean. But Cole Austin knocked in run to close the deficit to 8-4 in the sixth.
However, that would be the last threat the Mountaineers would mount. Unable to take advantage of scoring opportunities throughout the night, they wasted a 13 hit performance, which is a record for WVU in the conference tourney.
“It wasn’t too frustrating at the beginning of the game,” Jackson Cramer said. “We thought we were going to have some balls falls and it would break open eventually. Definitely some frustration later in the game when we were hitting balls right at them. Their pitch did a good job, especially with runners on.
West Virginia went through four relievers against Oklahoma State. Which means a short bullpen against the Red Raiders.
“The bull pen list is going to be a short one. So we need big Alek (Manoah) to go out there and get us pretty deep into the game,” Mazey said. “These guys gave great effort tonight. It was mentally exhausting, physically exhausting. When that is the case you need to rehydrate, get some rest and get ready to go [May 26].”
Michael Kinney is a freelance writer with Eyeamtruth.com