OKLAHOMA CITY — WVU is an aggressive baseball team. In all aspects of the game, they play with an attacking style.
Whether that is at the plate or in the field, it is the mentality head coach Randy Mazey has created in his time with the Mountaineers.
There is no better example of WVU’s go-for-it mentality than the way the Mountaineers attack defenses once they get on base paths. They use their ability to steal bases not just a weapon, but as a form of intimidation.
“We are pretty close to 100 stolen bases on the year,” Mazey said. “And when you do that, you have a runner over at first base and that changes how the pitcher pitches. It gives the guy at home plate better pitches to hit.”
In the Mountaineers’ 54 games this season, they have attempted to steal 127 bases. They have been successful 93 times.
WVU is ranked No. 16 in the nation in stolen bases. Fordham leads Division I with 169 steals and 217 attempts.
WVU is No. 1 in the Big 12. It has 11 more than second place TCU. The Mountaineers 127 attempts is 24 more, heading into Friday, than the Horned Frogs as well.
“We are always trying to get after it every single time,” WVU’s Brandon White said. “There is not a time that we’re really shutting it down. We’re trying to get that base all the time.”
WVU has carried its aggressive tactics on the base paths over into the postseason. They piled up six stolen bases in their win over Oklahoma State on Wednesday.
White and Braden Zarbnisky have led the charge for WVU when it comes to swiping bases. They have combined for five stolen bases in the first two games of the tournament.
On the season, White has stolen 22 bases and attempted to snag 32. Zarbnisky has converted on 27 of his 33 attempts.
Zarbnisky had a chance to tie or break the WVU season record for stolen bases this week during the Big 12 Championships. The record of 29 and it was set by Mickey Mamarella in 1986.
“When we do steal bases, we get into the pitcher’s heads,” White said. “We get to see a lot better pitches and a lot better pitches to hit. That’s a big part of it.”
Mazey agreed with White.
“The pitcher is trying to speed up and get the ball to home plate quicker and it turns into doubles,” Mazey said. “That is how you win games. I think both BW and Zarbnisky are both in the 20s now as far as stolen bases and they are a threat to go every time they get out there, which has been a huge part of our offense.”
It is not just White and Zarbnisky who are looking to make things happen on the base paths. Kyle Gray (10) and Jimmy Galusky (12) each are in double figures as well.
“You are just playing the odds. If you are a 75 or 80 percent success rate stealing bases, that’s kind of where you want to be,” Mazey said. “But when you are 80 percent, you are getting thrown out 1 out of every five times. If you are going to be as aggressive as we are you are going to have to live with those times you get thrown out. But there are a lot of benefits other than the ones you see.”