By Ryan Decker
Head coach Randy Mazey and West Virginia (1-2) head to Conway, SC this weekend to play four games in three days as part of the Brittain Resorts Invitational.
The Mountaineers will start the weekend against Virginia Commonwealth (1-3) on Friday, before playing Illinois (1-1) and VCU again on Saturday, and ending the weekend against the 2016 NCAA Champion Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (4-1) Sunday afternoon.
VCU dropped each of its first three games of the season before getting in the win column for the first time Tuesday against William & Mary.
So far this season the Rams are paced by Brett Willett and Paul Witt at the plate. Willett leads the team in average (.429) while Witt has a team-best five hits.
Witt, who played high school baseball at Jefferson High (WV) was the 2016 West Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year, was named last year’s Atlantic 10 Conference Rookie of the Year.
VCU pitching has struggled so far this season. Of the ten pitchers that have been on the mound, six have given up multiple runs.
Reliever Braxton Wilks is the only Rams pitcher to appear in multiple games.
A pair of Mountaineer relievers have appeared in two games, they being senior Shane Ennis and freshman Tristen Hudson, who made his collegiate debut last weekend.
WVU pitching has surrendered three more runs that the offense has scored, and has issued seven more walks than opposing pitching.
Illinois has played just two games this year, winning the season opener before being shutout in the second game of the split doubleheader.
The Illini finished last season five games under .500.
Sophomore shortstop Ben Troike leads the Illini in hits and RBI through the first two games after a successful freshman season. He’s the only Illinois hitter with more than two hits.
Ty Weber and Cyrillo Watson have made the two starts on the mound, with neither making it out of the fifth inning. Andy Fisher was big out of the bullpen in his lone appearance, tossing four innings of one-hit baseball while striking out four against South Dakota State, and earning the save.
Chase Illig’s solo home run in the fifth inning of the season opener proved to be the saving grace for WVU in the club’s lone win on the young campaign.
Illig is tied with Kevin Brophy for the team lead in average. No West Virginia hitter owns an average north of .300.
Jimmy Galusky and Marques Inman pace the team in hits.
WVU played Coastal twice last year in the Caravelle Resort Tournament in Myrtle Beach, claiming a pair of victories over the then-18th ranked team in the country, including a 22-9 shellacking exactly one year to the day the two teams will meet this season.
Nine different WVU players drove in runs and ten different players scored, while six Mountaineers homered in the contest.
CCU claimed a pair of 4-3, extra-inning wins over Big 12 opponents Oklahoma and Kansas State last week. It will enter the weekend tournament coming off a 13-0 win over the College of Charleston.
A trio of Chanticleer hitters own averages better than .390, including Kieton Rivers, who leads the club with a .476 hitting clip, and Kevin Woodall Jr., who has already hit three home runs and driven in 11 runs this season. Nearly half of Woodall’s hits have gone for extra bases.
Five different CCU pitchers have made starts, all going at least five full innings.
WVU gets the weekend started at 11 a.m. on Friday against the Rams. Other weekend start times are Saturday at 11 a.m.; Saturday at 6 p.m.; and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
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