MORGANTOWN — Like an old Buick on a cold day, the WVU baseball team could use some good starts.
At the halfway point of the regular season and with two Big 12 series already in the books, against Oklahoma and Texas Tech, WVU has yet to find much consistency from its starting rotation.
“It’s simple. It’s pitching 101,” WVU head coach Randy Mazey said, noting that one of the most consistent pitchers of all time, Greg Maddux, was in attendance April 6, watching his son, Chase, pitch for UNLV. “You’ve got Greg Maddux sitting over there in the other dugout and I told our guys, ‘You’ve got an opportunity to prove yourself in front of that guy. Pitch like he did.’ Keep it down on the knees on both sides of the plate and just pitch. You don’t have to overpower people.”
Instead, WVU starters Alek Manoah and Kade Strowd combined to allow 13 hits and 12 runs in six innings.
Manoah never made it out of the second inning in the first game, an 11-4 win by the Rebels.
Strowd gave up two doubles, a home run and four runs in the first inning of the second game, which WVU came back to win in the bottom of the ninth, 8-7.
Strowd then pitched three scoreless innings before allowing two more doubles and three runs in the fifth.
“We’re trying to get away with pitches that are belt high,” Mazey continued. You can’t do that against a good team.”
Looking to build off last season’s run to the NCAA tournament, WVU finds itself seventh out of nine teams in the Big 12 — Iowa State does not field a team — with an ERA of 5.08 entering the day.
Opposing hitters have struck out 198 times against WVU pitching. Only Kansas State in the Big 12 has struck out less.
Already, Mazey has made some adjustments.
He moved senior starter B.J. Myers into the bullpen, after Myers made six starts this season.
Myers pitched a scoreless seventh inning in the first game. Since the move, he’s pitched three scoreless innings and allowed two hits in two appearances.
“He’s had a history of being able to start and being able to relieve,” Mazey said. “Right now, with the way the staff is shaking out, he’s more valuable to us as a reliever, because we can get him out there more often.”
Still, WVU starters haven’t earned a win since Manoah helped shut out Canisius, on March 17.
In Big 12 play, WVU’s starters are 0-4 with two no-decisions.
With cold temperatures expected to hit Morgantown today, both teams will take the day off.
The three-game series concludes at noon Sunday.