West Virginia, which has now won 9 of its last 11 games, is looking to finish the Hawley Field portion of the home schedule undefeated. WVU comes into the game with a 27-18 overall record and sitting in a tie for third place in the Big 12.
Pitt will arrive off a three-game sweep of Big East rival Cincinnati, having won 11 of their last 12 to extend their record to 32-10. This will be Pitt's first midweek game since an April 17 doubleheader sweep against Coppin State.
West Virginia has its choice of pitchers for the game with the Panthers, having thrown two complete games in the three game set with Kansas. In the third game on Sunday, even though WVU used four pitchers, two of those pitchers combined to face just four batters.
The Mountaineers will likely once again send freshman Canadian Brock Dykxhoorn to the mound for the Tuesday start. A 20th round pick of the Cincinnati Reds in the 2012 Amateur Baseball Draft, Dykxhoorn has started the last three Tuesday games. WVU is undefeated in those contests.
Tuesday night will be Senior Night for the Mountaineers, even though WVU has six "home" games left in the season. Seniors Brady Wilson, Alan Filauro, Dan Dierdorf and Chris Rasky will be playing their final game in front of their classmates in Morgantown.
Dierdorff is coming off a complete game victory this Saturday over Kansas and has entrenched himself as the Mountaineers' Saturday starter.
Wilson, WVU's regular starter in left field, bats second in the lineup. He's hitting .293 on the season with a team leading 17 stolen bases.
Filauro is the team's starting catcher and is coming off a weekend where he caught all 30 innings and drove in the winning run in both games of the doubleheader sweep on Saturday.
Raske started 67 games in his career but has been used mostly as a pinch hitter and a situational substitute in 2013.
West Virginia played in front of record crowds in Beckley's Linda K. Epling Stadium this past weekend in the three game series against Kansas. Players and coaches alike noted how they drew energy from the crowd. These Mountaineers deserve to play in front of crowds like that for every game.
Certainly people can't be expected to attend mid-week baseball games at 3:00 in the afternoon -- a couple of those dotted WVU's March home schedule. But the Mountaineers should also expect that with classes in session, a good weather forecast like there is for this Tuesday and a 6:00 p.m start against Pitt, that Hawley Field would be packed with a loud and boisterous crowd.
If you haven't seen this team play, you're missing something very enjoyable. It is obvious that Randy Mazey runs a program with discipline and fundamentals, from the way the team dresses to the way they perform all their pre-game routines. But it is also plainly evident that Coach Mazey makes sure his players are havingfun, too. From Mazey sprinting into the team's mosh pit before every game to old school dugout pranks and even celebratory post game water dousings, this team is obviously enjoying their season in Mountaineer uniforms. Certainly it helps that the team is winning, but this team appears as loose during a tight conference game as it does during a blowout.
This team's chemistry and resilience have put the Mountaineers in a position nobody in these parts dared dream of during the pre-season. And as evidenced by the unanimous selection by league coaches as the worst team in the league, nobody outside of these parts did either.
Clearly the Mountaineer fans in Beckley are not the only people starting to take notice of the upstart Mountaineers. Baseball America's Aaron Fitt had a nice look at the WVU-Kansas series in his Weekend Preview column and included a note about Harrison Musgrave's Friday night start in his Friday Roundup column -- a spot usually reserved for Top 25 squads. Fitt is based in California and threw out a couple of tweets about WVU's sweep over Kansas, so the Mountaineers are clearly on the Baseball America radar.
Chew on that morsel for a minute. Then spit it out. WVU has a long way to go this season to even start thinking about the NCAA tournament, but Coach Mazey has a little motivational ploy going with the team as the picture to the left shows. Mazey hangs the team's new gold and blue camo jersey in the dugout every game. Mazey told them they could not wear that jersey unless they made the post-season. I don't know how much of a hit the jersey will be for the fans, but the players love it.
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West Virginia jumped to #70 in the latest RPI rankings released today. K-State leads the conference with a #29 rating, followed by Oklahoma (41), Oklahoma State (51), Baylor (55), Kansas (59), Texas (62), Texas Tech (92) and TCU (122). For context, WVU was rated #187 in the RPI on March 11th and was still sitting at #152 on April 1st.
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I'll say it now. Regardless of what happens for the rest of the season, if Randy Mazey isn't Big 12 coach of the year, it's a crime.
The Mountaineers close the week with a three game conference series with the Big 12's highest ranked team, Oklahoma, at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston starting at 6:30 p.m this Friday. WVU sits but one game behind Oklahoma for first place and is riding a huge wave of confidence.
There will be no sneaking up on the Sooners this weekend in Charleston, but Harrison Musgrave takes a 26 inning scoreless streak into Friday's start.