‘Depleted’ WVU Returns Home for Oklahoma Series - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

‘Depleted’ WVU Returns Home for Oklahoma Series

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Randy Mazey directs his Mountaineers during the Big 12 tournament (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle) Randy Mazey directs his Mountaineers during the Big 12 tournament (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)

By Chris Jackson

After venturing for five games on a tough road trip, West Virginia is finally back home.

The No. 25 Mountaineers (24-15, 9-6) won three of the five games, topping it off with an 8-6 victory at Virginia Tech on Tuesday. However, they were also dealt a crunching blow to the starting rotation that has seen success for much of the year.

Sophomore Michael Grove – who leads the team with a 2.87 ERA and boasts a 3-1 record – suffered a strained forearm during the first inning of last Saturday’s loss at Kansas State. WVU hopes to get him back for the regular season finale at Texas from May 19-21, according to D1Baseball.com.

“Winning on the road is extremely difficult,” said WVU head coach Randy Mazey in an interview with WVUSports.com. “Our team has been through a lot and continues to go through a lot, and they continue to answer the bell.”

Grove’s replacement has yet to be named ahead of this weekend’s series against Oklahoma (28-15, 6-6) as he’s the second WVU starter to go down, joining junior Conner Dotson, who is out for the rest of the year.

Oklahoma is struggling as of late after a strong beginning to the season, when it beat ranked teams in Long Beach State and Texas Tech. It is now currently amidst a stretch where it is losers of nine of the past 11 and watched three opponents total 14-plus runs, including a series loss against Kansas last weekend to fall into fifth place.

“They started the season on fire and it’s just a matter of time until they catch fire again,” Mazey said. “We just hope that they don’t catch fire for another week or so.”

The Sooners, though, still possess another challenge for Mazey. If it wasn’t for the recent woes, he believes it would be a top 25 matchup this weekend in Morgantown.

They are 6-3 against RPI top 25 teams and rank among the top four in the Big 12 in both hitting and pitching despite slipping down the standings. Sophomore outfielder Steele Walker remains one of the bright spots, holding the conference’s No. 3 batting average (.358) and the fifth most RBI’s (41).

Walker also notched three hits in Sunday’s 7-6 win over Kansas, salvaging one victory during the series and ending a seven-game losing skid.

For WVU and its shortened pitching rotation, containing Walker and the Oklahoma offense will be key in maintaining a top 25 ranking and potentially winning a fourth consecutive series at Monongalia County Ballpark.

“Two really good teams going at each other on a great weekend,” Mazey said. “It’s going to be tough because we’re a little bit depleted. Looking forward to a great weekend.”

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