Mazey Challenges Mountaineers: "Commit to the Jersey" - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Mazey Challenges Mountaineers: "Commit to the Jersey"

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After being among the nation’s top 25 for two consecutive weeks, the Mountaineers find themselves back on the outside looking in.

West Virginia made the program’s first appearance in the Baseball America Top 25 Poll back in April after winning the series against No. 3 TCU. The Mountaineers checked in at No. 21. After dropping the series at Kansas State following the weekend, they fell No. 25.

Now, after its second straight Big 12 series loss, WVU ranks No. 27.

Losing two of three against Oklahoma may have dropped WVU out of the ranks, but in head coach Randy Mazey’s mind, what he saw from his team during that series was more beneficial than the win.

“Looking back on it, we needed to pitch well more than we needed to win those games, and we did. A lot guys went out there in a big moment and pitched really well, and moving forward and closing this thing out, that’s exactly what we need to do, give those guys confidence,” Mazey said in an exclusive interview for the WVU Coaches Show.

Game one of the series was suspended due to lightning and resumed on Saturday, with freshman right-hander Sam Kessler on the mound. He pitched 2.2 innings, allowed just two hits with a strikeout and walk and earned his first career win.

Later that afternoon, the Sooners evened the series with a 3-1 victory. Freshman righty Alex Manoah held OU to three runs, all coming in the seventh inning. He pitched a career-long 8.0 innings, and allowed five hits, struck out a career-high-tying six batters and walked three. In the 7-4 loss in 10 innings in the series finale, freshman Kade Strowd allowed three runs on five hits with two strikeouts and two walks.

“We only have about three weeks left in (the regular season), and what’s going to carry us through the stretch here is simply effort,” Mazey said on Sunday. “The effort was really good today, and all I told them was to sustain the effort that you gave today for the rest of the season.”

The Mountaineers put that message to work on Tuesday and came out with a 17-1 victory over Eastern Michigan. West Virginia plated the 17 runs off 20 hits in an all-around victory that Coach Mazey said is his favorite this season.

“We pitched really well, played unbelievable defense, and swung the bats as good as we have all year. For all that to happen this late in the year when fatigue sets in and all the travel catches up to you, it’s really important to know that you are still capable of playing a game like that.”

The inability to win midweek games is what has kept West Virginia out of the post season in the previous years. Coach Mazey said he is proud of what his team has accomplished in midweek contests this season and attributes it to his pitching staff.

“We‘ve lost some guys and everyone has had to move up three spots, and for us to go out and win those games in mid week says a lot about the kids on this team.”

WVU has a chance to make a statement once again and prove why they should remain in the national conversation as they welcome in No. 4 Texas Tech this weekend.

The Red Raiders (37-12,11-7) remain one game ahead of WVU (26-17, 10-8) in the Big 12 Conference standings. They have won four of their last five including a series win over then-No. 4 TCU. Texas Tech handed the Horned Frogs a 21-3 beat down in the series final on Sunday.

Tech leads the league in batting (.306), runs (367), homers (48), doubles (98) and triples (22).

“We’re really going to have to pitch. They are the best team in the league offensively. All those young guys that I keep talking about that have been pitching well, they need to continue pitching well because these guys are as good as anyone out there.

Coach Mazey challenged his team to give everything they have for the university, the state, the fans and this program in the final weeks of the regular season, and that challenge continues tonight against the Red Raiders.

“We have a way of stepping up when the team we are playing is really good, so I am hoping that is the case again,” Mazey said ahead of this weekend’s series.

West Virginia hosts No. 6 Texas Tech in game one of the series tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Monongalia County Ball Park. Game two is set for Saturday at 4 p.m. and the series finale scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m.

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