Baseball, WVU Sports

Derek Clark pitches a gem to pull WVU even with Kansas State

GRANVILLE — Derek Clark was a postman working on a Saturday night.

Neither rain nor a 30-minute lightning delay could keep West Virginia’s senior pitcher from delivering.

His performance in the Mountaineers’ 13-0 victory against Kansas State inside Kendrick Family Ballpark was as timely as it was critical.


“When that guy comes off a not-so-great outing, he’s got a lot of pride now,” WVU head coach Randy Mazey said about Clark, who took a loss against Cincinnati in his previous start. “He didn’t pitch great at Cincinnati and gave up some hits. He was pretty driven that he was going to prove to everybody that wasn’t him last weekend.”

Check out this line: Clark pitched a shutout over his seven innings, allowed just two hits and struck out 10. It was the Mountaineers fifth shutout of the season.

“You’re going to get beat at times, that’s part of the game,” Clark said. “It was brutal, for sure. That was the worst I’ve thrown in a long time. Coming out here and bouncing back for these guys … I love this team and want to go out and compete the best that I can.”

Clark went 3 2/3 innings and struck out six before the teams left the field for a lightning delay. After the time off, he promptly came back out and struck out Jayden Parsons to end the fourth inning.

“It didn’t affect me,” Clark said. “I just went to the weight room and rode the bike a little bit. I tried to stay loose for 20 minutes and then came back out and went to work.”

More importantly, Clark’s pitching kept WVU (30-19, 16-10 Big 12) mathematically alive in the race for the top spot in the Big 12 Conference, while keeping Cincinnati at bay from overtaking it in the league standings.

Other things of note: The Mountaineers reached at least 30 wins for the seventh time in Randy Mazey’s 12th season as head coach, while the 16 Big 12 wins also set a program record, although the league went from 24 to 30 conference games this season.

Then there was one giant note that came off the bat of WVU shortstop J.J. Wetherholt, one that flew 460 feet into the night sky and presumably landed over at Buffalo Wild Wings and ordered a chicken sandwich and fries.

“There’s not many things that have happened over my career here that happened tonight,” Mazey said. “That was, maybe, only the second time I’ve seen one hit one over that batter’s eye. That’s just a special player who can do that.”

It was Wetherholt’s fifth home run of the season, and he also added an RBI single, a walk and scored three times, while raising his season average to .386.

Rebounding from Friday’s 4-3 loss against the Wildcats (29-19, 13-12), WVU’s offense needed just eight hits to score the 13 runs.

Sam White and Logan Sauve both hit three-run home runs and WVU tied the series with the
victory. White’s blast went 421 feet and landed on the roof of the coaches’ office out in right field.

“It felt really cool. I’ve never done that before in my life,” White said. “That was probably top two in the coolest things I’ve ever done, I’m going to stand by that. I blacked out on it. I hit it and I don’t remember what I did after that.”

The deciding game is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday, with WVU going with Tyler Switalski on the mound.