By Ryan Decker
A West Virginia (7-6) team that has won five of its last six takes its hot streak to Cookeville, Tennessee Tuesday and Wednesday for the final two road contests of the 15-game slate of games away from Morgantown to start the year.
WVU has won back-to-back series, and the offense is heating up.
The Mountaineers have scored at least seven runs in each of the last six games and have homered in nine consecutive games. With the offense scoring at a high rate, it’s taken pressure off the pitching staff, which has also performed better than it was at the start of the season.
This is the first-ever meeting between WVU and Tennessee Tech (9-5).
Offensively, the Mountaineers are best in the Big 12 with 21 home runs and second in slugging percentage (.492), while also being top 20 in the NCAA in both those statistics.
Kevin Brophy continues to lead the team in home runs, but now three other Mountaineers have at least three round trippers. Brophy’s six long balls are followed by Kyle Gray’s five and Jimmy Galusky’s four. Brophy and Galusky are also tied for the team lead in runs batted in with 12.
Last weekend, after Middle Tennessee’s six-run first inning Friday night, the Mountaineers outscored the Blue Raiders 25-9 over the remainder of the series and increased their scoring in each game.
West Virginia pitching has ramped up the production, as well, limiting opponents to four runs or fewer in three of the last four games. Kade Strowd has been leading the way on the mound, with each of his last two starts keeping the opposition largely at bay.
Tennessee Tech shares a distinction that none of the teams WVU has played thus far has – it made the NCAA Tournament last year. The Golden Eagles are 7-3 at home this year and are coming off a series win over UT Martin.
Alex Junior paces TTU with a .417 batting average. Trevor Putzig leads the Golden Eagles with 23 runs batted in, and John Ham has a team-best seven home runs.
Tennessee Tech has an explosive offense that averages 14.2 hits, 12.4 runs, and over 2.5 home runs per game. However, the Golden Eagles pitching staff has been prone to giving up a lot of offense to the opposition.
TTU has scored 10 or more runs in eight games this year, including a season-high 30 against Illinois State. But it has surrendered 10 or more runs in five games. The Golden Eagles’ 4-3 loss Saturday snapped a streak of five-straight games of scoring 10-plus runs.
Isaiah Kearns (0-0, 5.79 ERA) makes his second start of the season for WVU Tuesday, facing junior lefty Alex Hursey (1-2, 10.00). Wednesday’s Mountaineer starter hasn’t been determined, though the Golden Eagles will send Nic Dye (0-1, 13.00) to the mound.
First pitch Tuesday is set for 7 p.m. ET, with the opening at-bat on Wednesday scheduled to take place at 2 p.m.
Series Recap: Tennessee Tech Sweeps WVU
Series Preview: WVU looks to extend...