On May 14 the WVU baseball team defeated Texas Tech 5-3 to move to 39-13 on the season. West Virginia did not win again for 20 days until they defeated Ball State 13-5 Saturday at the Lexington Regional.
In the interim, the Mountaineers lost six straight games and looked like a shadow of the team that won its first-ever Big 12 title.
“We haven’t felt this good in a little while,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said with a smirk Saturday.
Those 20 days featured poor pitching performances, an offense that couldn’t deliver in the clutch and an uncharacteristically shaky defense that had the Mountaineers floundering at the most important part of the season.
At times it felt like WVU could do no good during those six losses. For every positive, there were two of three negatives that would cost them the game.
It looked like that might be the case again on Saturday when Ball State responded to a J.J. Wetherholt three-run home run with four two-out runs in the bottom of the third inning to take a 5-3 lead.
“You can think about it for about five seconds,” Wetherholt said. “It’s like ‘aw, this stinks’ but once you get into the dugout you get ready to hit. The inning’s over, you have to flip the page, turn the scoreboard off and have good at-bats. I think we did a really good job of doing that.”
The Mountaineers looked more like their old, winning selves in the next half-inning as they put up a four-spot of their own to retake a lead they would hold until the end of the game.
“Just walking through the dugout you could tell our energy was a lot better today,” said freshman Logan Sauve. “Once we got up by five, six, seven runs, everybody knew that this is the team we are.”
WVU added five runs in the top of the ninth for good measure, securing their first win in nearly three weeks.
“After the game, doing the winning handshakes we haven’t done in a while, that was when it really clicked that this is what it’s like to win again,” Wetherholt said. “That’s what we’ll be going to (Sunday).”
In addition to winning, the other thing the Mountaineers hadn’t done lately is their postgame huddle in the outfield. Mazey said WVU doesn’t huddle after losses like other teams do and getting to group together on Saturday brought the winning feeling back to the Mountaineers.
“When the game ended and the Mountaineers won, that reminded me of this season because we’ve done that a lot,” he said. “We haven’t done that a lot lately, but that just feels great to get in the huddle out there again.
“It’s nice to get back together with them again and everybody’s feeling good.”