MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Walks proved costly for TCU closer Durbin Feltman as four walks and a hit batter scored two runs in the ninth inning and the West Virginia University baseball team walked off against the third-ranked Horned Frogs with a 5-4 victory.
Feltman has been TCU’s dominant closer for the last two seasons, saving 18 straight games with ease but on Sunday afternoon his fate changed.
The Mountaineers (21-13, 8-4 Big 12) tied the game on Feltman’s bases loaded walk to first baseman Jackson Cramer, forcing the Horned Frogs (28-7, 9-3) to call upon Cal Coughlin.
The freshman struck out Cole Austin for the second out of the inning. Then Coughlin issued a walk to right fielder Darius Hill, scoring Kyle Gray.
With the victory, WVU wins the series against TCU and the Mountaineers have won their first four Big 12 series.
Currently, WVU is tied for second with Texas Tech and just one game behind the Horned Frogs.
“Yeah, I’ve liked this team since day one, and the bullpen has always been where you’ve been looking for someone to step up,” Mountaineers head coach Randy Mazey said. “I’ve been saying that since day one, but the competiveness on this team and how committed they are, I’ve always liked that. We went into this season saying ‘hey, we’re out to prove something.’ They keep telling us we’re not good enough to play in the postseason, so that’s what we’ve been using for motivation. The best way to motivate this team is to tell them they can’t do something.”
Overall, Sunday’s game was disastrous for TCU. The Horned Frogs were picked off three times and stranded ten baserunners.
Jackson Sigman (1-2) earned his first career win for WVU. The senior right-hander entered in the ninth with no outs and a runner on first. He got three quick outs, setting up for the magic in the bottom half.
In the first inning, the Mountaineers took an early 1-0 lead on an RBI single by Cramer, scoring Gray.
However, TCU tied the game in the second when Connor Wanhanen singled down the left field line.
Alek Manoah followed with a 1-2-3 inning in the third and WVU regained the lead with two runs in the third.
Braden Zarbnisky led off in the inning with a single and Cramer’s RBI double off the left-center wall gave the Mountaineers a 2-1 advantage.
With two outs, Kyle Davis doubled home Cramer and put WVU ahead 3-1.
In the fourth, the Horned Frogs responded to take a 4-3 lead. Back-to-back singles and an RBI double made it a one-run game. A wild pitch tied the game and Wanhanen’s base hit up the middle gave TCU the lead and ended Manoah’s afternoon. Zarbnisky took over and got the final two outs.
The Horned Frogs threatened in the sixth but Zarbnisky picked runners off first and second. With two outs and two on Sam Kessler came on and struck out Mason Hesse.
Zarbnisky and Kessler both pitched 2.1 scoreless innings. Zarbnisky allowed four hits and Kessler surrendered two hits while walking four.
The Mountaineers will travel to Charleston to take on Marshall on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Power Park.