Here's a quick look, with plenty of notes, quotes and highlights from the Texas Longhorns' 1-0 loss to the West Virginia Mountaineers in front of 5,641 fans at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin on Friday night.
The Texas bats again fell silent in Friday night's 1-0 loss.
How the Mountaineers (22-17, 5-5 Big 12) Won
The Longhorns couldn't put together a rally against West Virginia starter Harrison Musgrave. The sophomore lefty went a complete game, striking out nine Texas batters and spreading out six hits. Musgrave used a number of pitches and was locating them all effectively all night to stump the Longhorn batters. Texas actually outhit West Virginia, 6-5, but the Mountaineers were able to come through on one of their few rallies with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning after Corey Knebel came in for starter Parker French to edge Texas in the pitcher's duel.
How the Longhorns (20-16, 4-9 Big 12) Lost
Despite a great outing by French (3-3), the Texas bats once again couldn't produce. Friday night the Longhorns didn't have many chances to break through, only putting a runner in scoring position three times all night, but even when the opportunities were out there Texas couldn't take advantage. At the end of the day the Horns were a familiar 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position. The Longhorns fielded the ball cleanly and pitched well, they just couldn't come up with a key hit in a key situation....again. It looked like Texas was going to break though and get a big hit, but a hard-hit line drive by C.J Hinojosa in the eighth went right to the WVU shortstop and ended the threat. Outside of the eighth inning Texas never seemed to really put scoring pressure on Musgrave.
It has to be Harrison Musgrave. The Mountaineer starter pitched a gem of a game and kept the Longhorns guessing all night. He didn't allow a single Texas base runner to reach third base. Friday night's performance was the third complete game and second complete game shutout of his career. It was a fantastic game with two pitchers playing very well, unfortunately for the Longhorns - and it's been the same theme all season - the guys in the other dugout were able to do just a little bit more at the plate to get the win.
It Was Over When...
West Virginia shortstop Taylor Munden snagged C.J Hinojosa's line drive in the bottom of the eighth inning and turned an easy double play by touching second base to end the Longhorns' late rally. Texas had runners on first and second with one out after hits by Brooks Marlow and Weston Hall. Hinojosa came up with a chance to erase the run Knebel had just allowed or give Texas the lead but Munden was in the right place at the right time for the easy inning-ending double play.
Despite getting the loss, Parker French pitched a heck of a game on Friday night. The Texas starter went 7 1/3 innings with a career-high seven strikeouts. He allowed only five hits and one walk. On most nights that would have been enough to get the win, but the sole hit he surrendered in the eighth before being pulled for Knebel wound up being the difference in the ball game. French has had a great season so far, with better hitting his record would be far better than the 3-3 he's saddled with after yet another one-run loss.
The Longhorns went back to small ball in the bottom of the ninth after Mark Payton drew a leadoff walk. It's easy to second-guess after the fact, but with as much as Texas has struggled at the plate, it's hard to fathom sacrificing an out when you're down by one with only three outs left in the game. Augie Garrido has been around far longer than I have - and has forgotten more about the game than I'll ever know - but the decision to put the sacrifice on for Madison Carter didn't seem like the best option at the time.
Erich Weiss had to leave the game in the fourth inning after taking a pitch off his nose. He took a 2-2 pitch inside and the ball caromed off the bill of his cap and came down hard on the bridge of his nose, immediately producing a lot of blood. He was around after the game for the team meeting, so it doesn't appear to be a huge injury - he'll have an X-ray tomorrow - but it was definitely shocking to see Texas' third baseman down on the ground with a lot of blood coming from his face.
Corey Knebel continues to struggle when he inherits runners. Texas' closer came in for Parker French in the top of the 8th with runners on first and second. He immediately threw a wild pitch that allowed both runners to advance, putting the eventual game-winning run just 90 feet from home. After allowing a walk to load the bases with just one out, WVU's Bobby Boyd hit a sacrifice fly to left to score the game's only run. Knebel has been a monster when the bases are empty, but he's struggled this year when he inherits runners and it proved costly on Friday.
Stat(s) of the Night
Texas is now 9-8 in one-run games this season.... With his walk in the eighth inning, Mark Payton has reached base safely in 25 straight games... Friday's game marks the 24th time Texas has been involved in a one- or two-run game out of 36 total games.
Story of the Night
It was the definition of a pitcher's duel. Musgrave and French went back and forth all night. They both retired the first six batters they faced and ended the day with nine and seven strikeouts, respectively. Texas continues to struggle badly at the plate against left-handers, batting just .211 on the season after going 6-for-30 as a team Friday night. If there's any chance this team finds a way to make something of this season it will have to come at the plate where they just simply can't find a way to put the ball in play when there's an opportunity to score.
Augie Garrido on the pitching duel:
"From a pitching standpoint it was a heck of a baseball game. If you just take the losing out of it - which you can't, but still you have to choose to be realistic about the game that Parker pitched, and their pitcher pitched a great game as well. He's one of the premier pitchers in the league, he's done very well."
Augie Garrido on another frustrating loss:
"It got right down to the finest of details. Everybody's really frustrated, and we understand that. It's very difficult, obviously. But as you go through this if you can't see the opportunity in the next day than you really are missing out on the best part of baseball."
Augie Garrido on the team's performance:
"It would be different if they didn't play hard, or if they didn't play aggressively or if they didn't play baseball, but they did. After all the crap that they had gone through and still to hang in there and come out and just really play the game was what we've been trying to get it and they do it and we still get stunned by it."
Parker French on his outing:
"I felt really good. I finally felt like myself out there. The last few weeks have kind of been rough, but I felt like myself so that was a good sign."
Parker French on moving on from frustrating losses:
"Each one hurts a little more. The sun's still going to come up tomorrow, we're still going to have a baseball game to play, so I mean we're going to get over it, but it just stings a little bit more. It feels like you get punched in the gut - and right now the face, too."
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