Baseball, Sports, WVU Sports

WVU enters TCU series with positioning for Big 12 tournament on the line

MORGANTOWN — It almost feels like the WVU baseball team has become a type of soap opera these days.

The Mountaineers overcame one drama-filled moment only to dive head first into another.

That’s where WVU (31-19, 17-10 Big 12) finds itself, as the Mountaineers travel to TCU at 7 p.m. Thursday to begin a three-game series.


Last weekend, WVU came back after losing the first game against Kansas State to win the series in what were WVU head coach Randy Mazey’s last home games before he heads off to retirement after the season.

“This is the team I wanted to retire with,” Mazey said after the K-State series. “This is an unbelievable team, unbelievable kids. For them to go out and play the way they did today knowing it was my last game on this field, I can’t thank them enough.”

Heading off to Ft. Worth, Texas — where Mazey was an assistant coach before getting hired at WVU — only means a different kind of drama, as the Mountaineers attempt to wrap up one of the top-four seeds for the Big 12 tournament, while avoiding another major Texas letdown.

“This day will pass, and we’ll forget about it,” Mazey said. “I told them when this day is over and they take their jersey off, it’s time to start getting ready to play TCU. We still have a ton to play for. The season is not over by any stretch of the imagination.”

It was at this point last season when WVU traveled to Austin needing just one victory in three games against the Longhorns to secure the outright Big 12 title and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.

Texas pulled off the sweep, the beginning of a 1-7 slide for WVU that put a sour finish to what was a historical season.

The storyline is slightly different a year later. Oklahoma has already secured the Big 12 title, and so the battle is between WVU, Texas, Oklahoma State and Cincinnati to see who will fill in the slots behind the Sooners.

WVU enters the final week of the regular season tied with Texas for third place, with both schools just a half-game back of Oklahoma State.

The Mountaineers lose tiebreakers to both Oklahoma State and Texas, so they can only earn the No. 2 seed by finishing with more league wins.

In a bad-case scenario, WVU could fall to fifth place by losing its series against TCU (30-17, 13-14) — the Big 12 preseason favorite — and Cincinnati winning its series against Oklahoma.

In a disastrous scenario, if TCU sweeps WVU, Cincinnati wins its series and Kansas sweeps Texas, the Mountaineers could fall as far as sixth place in the Big 12.

WVU is expected to go with senior Hayden Cooper on the mound in today’s game. Cooper went six innings and allowed three runs in his start last weekend against Kansas State.

He’ll face a TCU lineup that is 12th in the conference in hitting with a .270 team batting average and is last in the Big 12 with 38 home runs.

The Horned Frogs survive on pitching. Their team 4.58 ERA is third in the conference and today’s starter Payton Tolle leads the league with a 2.87 ERA.

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