By Ryan Decker
The Mountaineers, winners of three of their last four, are coming off a four-run victory over Marshall, and enter the weekend tied for second place in the Big 12 Conference.
Kansas State recently swept a double header against New Mexico on Tuesday, however, is in the basement of the conference after loosing each of its first four weekend series against conference foes.
WVU is one of the hottest teams in the country right now, and has won five consecutive weekend series dating back to March 17-19 when the Mountaineers took two out of three against then-No. 10 Baylor in Waco.
Randy Mazey’s club overall appears to be running on all cylinders, but one unit on the team that has had its share of struggles this season may be turning things around.
The bullpen has given Mazey and pitching coach Derek Matlock consecutive shutdown performances.
Most recently, Riley Trout pitched five shutout innings in relief Tuesday against the Herd. Senior reliever Jackson Sigman has pitched back-to-back appearances without giving up a hit.
“You’ve got to be pleased after Saturday’s game where we went through a lot of relievers trying to find the guy that can put the fire out, so to speak, and we couldn’t do it. We had a pitcher’s meeting the following day and just told everybody how much confidence we had in them, and they’ve got a lot of pride as a group. We just need to get right back out there and right the ship, and we did that. Sunday and Tuesday we threw a bunch of scoreless innings out of the bullpen and feel really good about where we’re at right now.”
— Randy Mazey to IMG’s Dan Zangrili as part of their Around the Horn segment on wvusports.com. “
Offensively, freshman Brandon White continues to get on base at an extremely high rate.
White’s .356 average leads the team, and ranks fourth in the conference, while his .450 on-base percentage only trails that of Kyle Gray amongst Mountaineer players.
Gray’s average has risen over 80 percentage points over the last three-plus weeks.
Including White, four Mountaineers own averages above .300, and two more – Darius Hill and Kyle Davis – are hitting at a clip of .290 or better.
As a team, West Virginia bests the Wildcats in most offensive categories.
Will Brennan, Cameron Thompson and Jake Scudder lead Kansas State at the plate.
Brennan owns the second-best batting average in the Big 12 at .367. The freshman also has a good batter’s eye, having drawn 20 walks while striking out just six times this season.
Thompson also is among the conference leaders in average, getting a hit at a .333 clip, and is dangerous on the base paths, owning 10 stolen bases in his first year at the collegiate level.
Scudder’s 10 home runs lead the Big 12.
BJ Myers (3-2, 3.38 ERA) goes for his fourth-straight quality start on Friday. He’s pitched into the ninth inning in each of his last two starts. Myers will face off against Justing Heskett (4-2, 2.88) on the mound in the series opener.
WVU’s Michael Grove (3-1, 2.70) and K-State’s Parker Rigler (2-4, 3.46) will toe the rubber Saturday. The Sunday starters have not been determined for either team.
The series begins Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET at Tointon Family Stadium.