Mountaineers on road again, looking for rhythm

NORMAN, Okla. — For the first part of the season, the WVU baseball team lived on the road. Of the Mountaineers’ 18 games, 15 were away from the friendly confines of Monongalia County Ballpark.

So, it should not be a surprise that when the Mountaineers kick off the start of the Big 12 Conference portion of their schedule, they’re on the road.

“We’ve had some good some days. Not so good other days,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “Still trying to get in the rhythm of the season. Spent a lot of time on the road early on and finally got home and started playing and just jump back on the road. Played in some cold weather this year. Only played three games at home, so we’re still trying to catch our rhythm.”

WVU (9-9) and Oklahoma (14-9) start a three-game series March 23, at L. Dale Mitchell Park. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.

The Mountaineers haven’t played since March 18, when they lost, 4-3, to Canisius, at home. Their home game Tuesday, against LaSalle, was postponed.

WVU has a 6-6 road record, 1-2 at neutral sites.

Even though WVU has been through long road stretches before, Mazey admits it’s hard to determine how each particular team will handle it.

“Yeah, we do it every year, but every team is different,” Mazey said. “Every team has to get used to it in a different way, so you got some new guys on this team that are trying to contribute. It’s always a learning curve with a new team.”

Conversely, the Sooners stayed in Norman for the overwhelming majority of their games.

They played 18 of their 23 contests on the Oklahoma campus.

Facing a squad that is pretty comfortable at home could present challenges for WVU. But Mazey just wants to see a few things from his squad.

“Just our ability to compete,” Mazey said. “Knowing we just go out and compete on every pitch of every game then, results should take care of themselves. We’ve just got to keep competing no matter what happens.”

B.J. Myers will get the start on the mound for the Mountaineers in the first game of the series. The senior has yet to win a game this season but has a 5.55 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings.

“He’s kind of crafty. He’s a senior. He’s been around a while,” Mazey said of Myers. “He’s seen all these teams perform. He’s not gonna let it get to him or the team in the other dugout get to him. He’s just gonna do his thing and throw from different arm angles and throw different velocities, and you’ve got to have a pretty good approach against B.J. to beat him.”

Starting for Oklahoma is junior Jake Irvin. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.83 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings.

Led by Kevin Brophy and Darius Hill, the Mountaineers rank among the NCAA and Big 12 leaders in several offensive categories. They hit a league-best 25 home runs, which ranks No. 19 nationally.

“The thing where we haven’t done all that great is pitching,” Mazey said. “We got a lot of pitching that needs to get a lot better if we’re gonna make any noise in the league at all this year.”

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