The West Virginia University baseball team (33-21) begins play in the Big 12 Baseball Championship Wednesday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Okla.
WVU is coming off arguably its best season since joining the Big 12 in 2013, tying the school record for wins since leaving the Big East.
West Virginia, which ended the regular season winners of 11 out of its last 13 games including a 10-game win streak, enters post-season play as the hottest team in the Big 12.
The fourth-seeded Mountaineers play the first game of the tournament, as they square off against the No. 5 seed Oklahoma Sooners (28-25-1).
“They’re playing good right now,” WVU head coach Randy Mazey said Tuesday. “We’re playing good right now. They’re going to have the majority of fans in the stands. I foresee, just like every game in the Big 12, I foresee a really close hard fought game.
OU and WVU faced each other in a three-game weekend series toward the end of April in their only meeting of the regular season.
The first game of that series was a pure pitcher’s duel as both starting pitchers pitched into the eighth inning without giving up a run. In fact, neither team had a player cross home plate until the bottom of the 10th, when a throwing error by West Virginia allowed the game-winning run to score.
Late-inning magic gave Oklahoma the win in the middle game of the series, as the Sooners scored seven runs in the bottom of the eighth to turn a one-run deficit into a six-run victory.
Oklahoma jumped on top early in the series finale, scoring seven runs in the bottom of the first, and knocking West Virginia starter BJ Myers out of the game before he could record three outs. Freshman Michael Grove came in in relief, and pitched masterfully.
Grove finished the game on the mound, throwing 8.1 innings in relief, allowing just four hits, no runs, and striking out 13 hitters.
The Sooners must face Grove once again, who gets the nod to start the Mountaineers first game of the postseason.
Grove pitched to just a 2-4 record during the regular season, but he was one of the best pitchers Mazey has in terms of ERA, as he owns a 2.44 earned-run average in his 14 appearances.
Despite sending a freshman pitcher to the mound against the host team, Mazey still feels confident.
“I like our momentum coming into this thing. We’re coming off one in a row against a really good (Texas Tech) team. So we feel pretty good about ourselves.”
Prior to Tuesday’s media event, the All-Big 12 teams were announced. Eight different Mountaineer players were selected.
Starting pitcher Chad Donato was a unanimous selection for All-Big 12 First Team, meanwhile first baseman Jackson Cramer and freshman right fielder Darius Hill were named to the All-Big 12 Second Team.
Infielders Kyle Davis, Jimmy Galusky and Ivan Vera, as well as pitchers Grove and Blake Smith, were Honorable Mention selections.
Both Hill and Vera were also named to the All-Freshman team.
First pitch between West Virginia and Oklahoma is scheduled for 9 a.m. Central Time.
Fans of the Mountaineers can listen to the game on 91.7 FM or on http://u92.wvu.edu/.
Depending on the outcome of Wednesday’s game, the Mountaineers will either face No. 1 seed Texas Tech or No. 8 seed Kansas State Thursday.