Vance's Spark Snaps Streak for WVU - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Vance's Spark Snaps Streak for WVU


Shane Vance stood along the left field fence Tuesday night with his cell phone raised, doing his best to capture one more moment from an evening that was full of so many that he will cherish.

The night before, Shane received a phone call from his son, Ross, who had just found out he would be getting his first career start for West Virginia University.

The sophomore left-handed pitcher had only been used in relief appearances since he got to Morgantown this season and was a late addition when Coach Randy Mazey needed a last-minute starter.

Ross would take the mound for a 6 p.m. ET pitch against Ohio State and Shane had no intention of missing his son's debut.

The Vances hail from McKinney, Texas, just over 30 minutes from Dallas. Shane booked a flight as quickly as he could, in a race against time to reach WVU's Hawley Field in support of Ross.

There he sat in the left field bleachers as the sophomore faced his first adversity of the night. With the bases loaded in the top of the second inning, Vance struck the batter on a slider that got away from him.

"You can't be afraid to go inside," Vance said, reflecting on the run that he gave up. "I didn't let that affect me too much. I just kind went out and thought about it, all right, I got my bad inning out of the way. I can't get another one the rest of the game and I don't think I did."

Vance got out of the bases loaded, one out pinch he was in with just the one run scored and as he said, he never put himself into a similar situation for the rest of the night.

Mazey said it was the difference between Vance as a reliever and as a starter. If he had done the same think in a relief appearance, Mazey would have yanked Vance from the mound. As a starter, you have to ride him through those bumps and hope that it will pay off.

Vance made certain that it did.

The next time he took the mound, he had a 2-1 lead courtesy of a two-run blast from Max Nogay in the bottom of the second. It made all of the difference in the world to help Vance refocus on his game and forget about the poor throws he had made the previous inning.

"Getting the hitters behind me and getting Max's home run in the second was a big help, knowing that they had my back right off the bat," Vance said.

On a night when snow fell in the University City, Vance felt like he was back home in the Texas heat.

"I went out thinking that of course I would get the start on a day like this where it's cold and snowing of all things," he said. "When I was out there, I didn't even feel it. It felt normal. It felt like an 80-degree day."

Over the course of nine innings, Vance struck out 14 batters, a season-high for the Mountaineers in what was ultimately as good of a pitching performance as WVU has seen this year.

"We've pitched him in relief this whole season and he hasn't been effective. Who knew? Who knew that he could do that if given the opportunity?" Mazey said. "That's why we talk to our guys all the time, in baseball and in life, sometimes opportunities are few and far between, but when you get them, you've got to take advantage of them."

Shane knew his opportunities to see Ross pitch may be few and far between, so he made sure that he booked that flight and picked out the best seat to watch his son in action. After the game, there he was with his cell phone raised, taking pictures or video as the media converged on Ross to discuss his outing.

According to Ross, it was the first interview he had given. After a 14 strikeouts and a complete game victory over Ohio State to snap a seven-game losing streak, he will likely have more.

As for what his performance meant to him, Vance had a simple response: "It means hopefully I can get another shot."

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