Baseball, Sports, WVU Sports

6 straight wins puts WVU in prime hosting position — just ask Darius Hill

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Two wins at the Big 12 baseball tournament, and six straight overall, gave West Virginia’s postseason resume a bump at a crucial time.

How big of a bump?

“We go to Darius for that,” said second baseman Tyler Doanes. “He’s the stat guy who keeps up with everything. He’s amazing with that stuff.”

Right fielder Darius Hill, who could major in bracketology if such a curriculum existed, was spewing numbers after Thursday night’s 5-1 win over Texas Tech.

“Darius literally told me what our RPI was within 45 seconds of the last out being recorded,” Mountaineers coach Randy Mazey said. “He’s my fountain of information.”

On Friday morning, inside the lobby of the team hotel, Hill was sizing up coast-to-coast conference tournament results. He focused on Texas A&M, Miami, N.C. State, North Carolina, LSU and UC-Santa Barbara — a cluster of teams competing against West Virginia (36-18) for the final NCAA regional host sites. 

Hill knows West Virginia’s No. 11 RPI is the best of the group, and presents a sound metrical argument for bringing one of the 16 regionals to Morgantown. Hill knows other details too.

“Some of the teams didn’t play everybody in their conference during the regular season — like A&M didn’t play Georgia,” he said. “There’s stuff on the resume that people don’t see at face value. Hopefully the committee is looking at that more than some of the pundits are.”

One of those pundits, Aaron Fitt of, elevated the Mountaineers to hosting status in his Friday projection.

“I think they’re in pretty good shape,” Fitt said. “To jump up to 11 in the RPI, that’s tough to deny. And now they’re 15-11 in the Big 12. That was the big wart they had to address — that they were just 13-11 in the regular season. Now that’s kind of been remedied.”

Baseball America still projected West Virginia as a No. 2 seed traveling to the N.C. State regional. It promoted LSU (RPI 21) to a hosting slot after the Tigers beat Auburn 4-3 on a ninth-inning comedy of errors.

So goes the fluid run-up to the NCAA bracket reveal, where sometimes the Mountaineers don’t know precisely who to be cheering for.

“At the time, you think we needed Auburn to win that game to keep LSU out of the hosting mix. But if Auburn wins that game and runs the tournament, then you’ve got to worry about Auburn hosting,” Mazey said. 

“It’s fun to look at that other stuff. You root for things to happen that you think need to happen, but you can’t control any of it.”

The part WVU can control is its fate at the Big 12 tournament.

By virtue of winning their first two games at Bricktown Ballpark, the Mountaineers had Friday off. They’ll play again Saturday at 10 a.m. Eastern against the survivor of Texas Tech-Kansas. WVU need only win one of two to advance to Sunday’s championship game.

“One more win and I think they’re definitely hosting,” Fitt said. “But if they lose twice Saturday, then they’re 15-13 in the league and they sort of give back the progress they made the last few days.”

In the opposite half of the bracket, Oklahoma State is in the driver’s seat awaiting the Baylor-TCU winner.

Kade Strowd (5-5, 4.64 ERA) is scheduled to start Saturday morning for WVU. That leaves Jackson Wolf (2-4, 4.75) for Saturday’s if-necessary game or Sunday’s final.

“We’ve got a lot of pitchers who haven’t touched the ball yet, so in a tournament situation it’s the best-case scenario,” Mazey said.

West Virginia reached the Big 12 championship game in 2016 but has never won it. “Hopefully we can keep winning ballgames and make history,” Doanes said.

History that could extend to Morgantown hosting an NCAA regional for the first time.

“Sometimes it’s all about the RPI and the top 16 spots are going to get them,” Mazey said. “Other times, the committee cites other reasons. If you look at our resume, there’s a lot of reasons why we should be able to host. Just gotta finish our business out here.”

TWITTER @GAllanTaylor


Wednesday, May 22
West Virginia 12, Kansas 8
Texas Tech 7, K-State 4
Baylor 8, Oklahoma 2
Oklahoma State 5, TCU 2

Thursday, May 23
Kansas 15, K-State 14 (K-State eliminated)
TCU 15, Oklahoma 3 (Oklahoma eliminated)
West Virginia 5, Texas Tech 1
Oklahoma State 5, Baylor 0

Friday, May 24
Texas Tech 7, Kansas 5 (Kansas eliminated)
Baylor vs. TCU, 8 p.m.

Saturday, May 25
West Virginia vs. Texas Tech, 10 a.m.
If-necessary game, 5 p.m.
Oklahoma State vs. TCU-Baylor winner, 1:30 p.m.
If-necessary game, 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 26
Championship game, 2 p.m.