MORGANTOWN — One and done is not exactly the most popular phrase in college athletics. For the No. 6 WVU baseball team, it could mean history.
The Mountaineers (39-13, 15-6 Big 12) need just one win in their three-game series against Texas, which starts at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, to clinch at least a share of the school’s first-ever Big 12 baseball championship and the No. 1 seed in next week’s Big 12 tournament.
One win to erase the preseason doubters who picked WVU to finish sixth back in February.
One win to add yet another notch on the belt on the job Randy Mazey has done in building this program, not that he views any potential championship as a personal accomplishment.
“It would mean something to me, only because it would mean something to the players, the community, the university and the state,” said Mazey, who has won 335 games at WVU in 11 seasons. “For me personally, I don’t have those types of goals, but I would feel really good for the community of Morgantown and the state to hang their hat on something that’s never been done before.”
While it may sound simple to ask a baseball team to win just one game in three tries, this final week of the regular season may be the Mountaineers’ toughest hurdle in a season when they’ve already cleared several.
“Nothing is a cake walk,” WVU first baseman Grant Hussey said. “Going to Texas, I hear it’s hard to win there.”
WVU is 7-8 all-time at Texas, but the Mountaineers will be trying to make history against the Big 12’s most historical baseball school.
Aside from the fact Roger Clemens once pitched there, Texas has traditionally boasted one of the strongest fan bases.
In the 15 games WVU has played at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, only three times were the stands filled with less than 5,000 people.
This is no easy task for the Mountaineers.
“Yeah, that’s what they tell me,” Hussey said.
The series will certainly mean something to the Longhorns (35-18, 12-9), too.
Texas has not been eliminated from what would be their 10th Big 12 regular-season championship. The Longhorns need a sweep of WVU and then would need Oklahoma to win at least once against No. 25 Oklahoma State to capture the No. 1 seed.
Technically, Kansas State is also still alive, and Oklahoma State could still make a run, too.
The possible scenarios are still rather frenzied, including a possible four-way tie.
WVU could end all of it with just one single victory, one that would give the Mountaineers just their second 40-win season in school history.
“I don’t know how much the approach changes, but it’s definitely more exciting,” WVU second baseman J.J. Wetherholt said. “Sometimes these series toward the end of the year could not mean anything, but we know what’s at stake. I think we’re all looking forward to playing and doing something that’s never been done before.”
With one WVU win, both Texas and Kansas State would be eliminated from championship contention.
Oklahoma State (35-15, 13-8) could still tie the Mountaineers if both schools finished at 16 conference wins, but WVU owns the tiebreaker and would still be the No. 1 seed at next week’s Big 12 tournament.
If WVU wins two games against the Longhorns, the Mountaineers would secure the Big 12 title outright. If WVU is swept, it could fall as far as the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 tournament.
So, what it comes down to is whether or not the new kids on the block can go into one of the most tradition-filled baseball schools in the country and make history.
“A lot of guys are having really good years,” said Mazey, who would earn a $30,000 contract incentive with a Big 12 title. “That’s the sign of a good team. We’ve been doing it all year. You try and keep guys from looking ahead, but they’re kids. They know the projections and what stuff means.
“I don’t do much. I just stand there and watch these guys play. They’re so much fun to be around. I just let my coaches do their thing and let the players do their thing.”