The West Virginia University baseball team committed its final out in a 6-5 loss to Marshall Tuesday night in Beckley around 9 p.m. The Mountaineers quickly packed up their things and headed for the bus to get back to Morgantown.
They arrived home around 1 a.m. and had to meet at the Coliseum three hours later to make their way to Pittsburgh for their flight to Oklahoma and a three-game series against Oklahoma State beginning Thursday evening. Because of that wacky travel schedule, Head Coach Randy Mazey decided to only bring a minimal number of players to Beckley for the game against Marshall.
"Travel has been a grind the whole season and I thought that maybe last week it was starting to wear on us a little bit," Mazey said following the loss to Marshall. "In the interest of trying to win our conference we went with rest. I'm not saying that is why we did not win the game, but we only brought about 10 players and five pitchers on the trip."
The trip to Oklahoma is the final piece of a crazy schedule that took WVU to Charleston last weekend for a series against TCU. The limited roster made the trip from Morgantown to Beckley Tuesday and returned to join the rest of their team for the flight to Oklahoma on Wednesday.
That kind of schedule would wear down even the most experienced business traveler. Imagine what it does to an athlete expected to be at the top of their game.
"It's not going to be easy," Mazey said regarding this week's travel schedule. "I'm an old man and it makes me tired and I don't have to play these games."
"I have only played the field twice this year so it is not as taxing on my body as it is for the everyday guys," Outfielder and Designated Hitter Matt Frazer stated. "It is a grind. We knew it was going to be that from the beginning of the season and we have accepted the challenge and responded pretty well at this point."
To their credit, nobody at WVU is outwardly complaining of the travel. They are simply answering the questions when asked. The players are also doing their best to rest whenever and wherever they can.
"When you have our schedule you can sleep almost anywhere," Frazer joked. "Anyplace that is comfortable is not that hard to fall asleep."
The numerous miles logged between Morgantown and Charleston, Morgantown and Beckley and Morgantown and Stillwater are now in the past. WVU will play Oklahoma State Thursday through Saturday and then remain in Oklahoma where the Big 12 Tournament is set to begin next Wednesday.
WVU enters the series with Oklahoma State clinging to a chance at winning a Big 12 regular season title. West Virginia trails Kansas State by two games and is tied with Oklahoma for second place. The Mountaineers are sitting in a coveted spot this late in the season.
"We have a chance to finish first in the Big 12 and this is May the 14th," Mazey said. "If you would have told me in February that we would be standing here talking about that, I would rest all of our guys every mid-week game if we had a chance to win the Big 12, which we do. Hopefully the fact that we left those guys home means they will be well rested when we play those games this weekend and hopefully that will get us a couple of games this weekend."
WVU has slipped in the RPI rankings to a spot where the Mountaineers are all but eliminated from a shot at receiving an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. West Virginia can still earn an automatic bid by winning the Big 12 tournament.