WVU Baseball

GAME PREVIEW: WVU Baseball faces Oklahoma State in Morgantown

Still high on the charts in the RPI, the West Virginia baseball team is starting to find a groove at the right time.


Last weekend, the Mountaineers scored an important series win over a strong UNLV team, and followed that up with a pair of midweek wins over Penn State and Pitt. Having pulled back to .500, the 15-15 Mountaineers will have to get the next monkey off their back against Oklahoma State this weekend: they’ll have to prove that this team can get it done against the Big 12.


The Mountaineers enter this weekend series just 1-5 against Big 12 opposition this season, having eaten a lopsided sweep at Oklahoma and scoring one upset win at then-No. 7 Texas Tech before dropping the next two.


This weekend’s series against Oklahoma State will prove a major opportunity. Not only is it West Virginia’s home conference opener, the Cowboys are not among the Big 12’s strongest teams – unranked at 18-12-1 on the season, Oklahoma State’s RPI ranking of 41st on the country nevertheless means that the Mountaineers will have a good chance to move up should they take the series.


And the Mountaineers are coming off probably their strongest all-around performance of the season in a 12-1 rout in the Backyard Brawl on Wednesday. Four West Virginia pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts, while the offense tagged four Pitt pitchers for three runs each, led by four-hit nights from Brandon White and Jimmy Galusky.


"As we talk about after every game, we're trying to catch a rhythm and hopefully this is the start of it, because we have an opportunity to make some noise right now,” head coach Randy Mazey said. “This was, without question, the best game we've played all year on all three sides of the ball. We pitched really well, we played great defense and we hit really well. So, that's super encouraging."


Although Oklahoma State has an underwhelming overall record, the Cowboys boast an impressive 7-2 mark in Big 12 play, marked by back-to-back weekend sweeps of TCU and Kansas State.


They’ve achieved this behind strong pitching – sophomore starter Carson Teel, coming off a complete game win last week, leads the team with 4 wins, 2.49 ERA and 52 strikeouts, while Sunday starter C. J. Varela boasts three wins of his own and a 2.87 ERA.


In the lineup, catcher Colin Simpson is the Cowboys’ strongest power threat, leading the team with 9 home runs and 33 RBI on a .309 average. Infielder Michael Neustifter leads the team with a .312 batting average.


West Virginia’s rotation has changed over the course of the season, but if Mazey holds to the format of the UNLV series, he will send out sophomore Alek Manoah at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Kade Strowd at 4 p.m. Saturday and do-everything junior Braden Zarbnisky at 1 p.m. Sunday.

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