Baseball, Sports, WVU Sports

Mazey cherishes final home game as WVU tops K-State to take series

GRANVILLE — It began 12 years ago with those in the inner baseball circles telling Randy Mazey he likely made a big mistake taking the West Virginia job.

“Look at this place,” an emotional Mazey began as he looked out to a Kendrick Family Ballpark crowd of 3,232, many who were staying after the game for autographs. “Twelve years ago, West Virginia was thinking about dropping the baseball program, and look at what it’s turned into.”

What the Mountaineers have turned into is a program that plays with a chip on its shoulder, one that has led it to greater expectations.

WVU knocked off Kansas State 12-5 Sunday, which handed the Mountaineers their sixth Big 12 series victory this season, while sending Mazey off as a winner in his final home game. He’ll retire at the end of this season.

The Mountaineers (31-19, 17-10 Big 12) will conclude the regular season later this week at TCU with an opportunity to secure the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 tournament.

Neither were the top storylines on this day, though.

That was reserved for Mazey, who spent the last 12 years proving doubters wrong and building a program worthy of winning recruiting battles, competing for Big 12 titles and playing in NCAA tournaments.

Along the way, fans took notice. Over those 12 years, dozens in attendance built into hundreds and then thousands.

“There’s no way to thank everybody who has been involved in this,” Mazey said. “It’s been an absolute honor to be a part of this. I don’t feel responsible in any way, shape or form for the success. I was just a part of it.

“There’s so many people to thank and I’ve invited them all down to the field, so I’m getting ready to thank about 3,000 of them personally.”

The day began with Mazey catching ceremonial first pitches from members of his family, including his mother Elaine.

His son Weston opened the game by playing the National Anthem on his saxophone that he only began to learn to play six months ago.

“He practiced on his own with mom’s (Amanda Mazey) help,” Mazey said. “He did it in secret. I thought he killed it. He killed it for just learning how to play. That was a special moment for me.”

WVU sent Mazey out on a good note with three home runs from Ben Lumsden, Skylar King and J.J. Wetherholt. WVU has hit 80 home runs this season, one shy of the school record it set last season.

That was not a path to victory for WVU when Mazey first took over as head coach in 2013.

Back in those days, it was pitching, defense, stealing a ton of bases and manufacturing runs that led to the creation of “Mazeyball.”

A scrappy Mazeyball-type team led WVU to a trip to the NCAA tournament in 2017. In 2019, WVU hosted its first NCAA regional since 1955.

“You don’t want to be a one-year flash-in-the-pan kind of program,” Mazey said. “You want to build on that momentum, which we did by hosting the regional in 2019.

“Since that time, I think we’ve achieved a level of sustainability here.”

In 2022, along came a recruiting class that featured the likes of Wetherholt and Grant Hussey, who has since gone on to become the school’s all-time home run leader.

Meanwhile, Wetherholt developed into a sure-fire star and last year’s Big 12 Player of the Year.
He, too, likely appeared in his final college home game on Sunday, going out with a 423-foot blast that gave WVU a 6-1 lead in the fourth inning.

Wetherholt, projected as a top-10 pick in this summer’s MLB draft, also drew a bases-loaded walk for his fourth RBI in the game.

“He was just a little kid from Pittsburgh who had some ability,” Mazey said. “To see what he’s developed and turned into, he’s a once-in-a-lifetime player. It was an honor to say he and I shared our last year together.”

That last year is not officially over with the trip to TCU and then the conference tournament, but Mazey’s best accomplishment just may be the position the Mountaineers are set up for in the years to come with Mazey watching from afar.

“The good news is the level of sustainability is really only halfway up the ladder,” Mazey said. “There’s still a lot of room to go above us. We can go to regionals and super regionals and the College World Series.

“I have 100% confidence in the fact West Virginia baseball will play in the College World Series one day. It would be cool if it was this year, but that is going to happen. When that day comes, I’ll continue to take pride in the fact that I had just a little part of it.”