Surprisingly tied for third with three conference series remaining in the season, WVU will once again go with lefties Harrison Musgrave (7-1) and John Means 3-2) and right handed senior Dan Dierdorff (3-5) on the mound.
Musgrave, the redshirt sophomore from Bridgeport, brings a 26 scoreless inning streak into the game with the Sooners, having thrown consecutive complete game victories for the Mountaineers. WVU has not lost a Friday conference opener this season. Musgrave has been the Big 12 Pitcher of the Week three times this season and the national pitcher of the week twice.
“Its kind of surreal, how I’ve been able to pitch of late and hopefully it just keeps continuing,” said Musgrave.
“It really is unbelievable,” said Coach Randy Mazey, “now I know how Tiger Woods feels every time he makes a par. Its just another boring par. So like Tiger Woods, just another win for the Mountaineers on Friday. It really is unbelievable. It is hard to find words to figure out how well we’ve done on the first game of every series in this conference. My hat is off to this team, they sure show a lot of character.”
Dierdorff, from Mount Wolf, Pa., makes his fourth consecutive weekend start for WVU after starting the season in the bullpen. The senior is coming off a complete game victory over Kansas this past weekend and has thrown a complete game in two of his last three starts.
“Every time you get a good start like that you just hope it keeps going, but all you can do is work hard and just focus on the next game.” Dierdorff added.
Means, from Olathe, Kan., makes his ninth start for WVU. Sporting a nice 2.96 ERA, Means has lately been splitting innings with former starter Corey Walter (4-4, 4.08), who has been transitioned into being WVU’s long reliever since Dierdorff’s promotion to the starting rotation.
In each of the last two weekends, Means has started and pitched well and Walter has relieved him to finish out the game for WVU in victories over Texas and Kansas.
Oklahoma brings their own standout staff into this pitching matchup. The Sooners start pre-season All-American and the projected second pick in the upcoming Major League Baseball draft in junior righty Justin Gray (8-1.10). Oklahoma will also start another pre-season All American in junior lefty Dillon Overton (8-2, 2.52). It is unknown at this time which game either will pitch but Gray has been the Saturday starter for Oklahoma for most of the season. Oklahoma’s third projected starter is lefty Jake Fisher (1-1, 1.98).
Gray leads the OU starting rotation with a 1.10 ERA and a Big 12-leading 98 strikeouts over 74 1/3 innings of work. The junior from Chandler, Okla., is second in hits allowed per nine innings (4.63), third in the nation in strikeouts and 14th in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings. Gray has won three Big 12 pitcher of the week honors, becoming just the 13th pitcher to earn three or more Big 12 Pitcher of the Week honors and the first Sooner to do so.
Overton has fanned 66 and walked just 16 over 71 1/3 innings. The junior from Weatherford, Okla. is coming off an eight inning, eight strikeout performance against Baylor on April 13th in the Sooners’ victory. Overton was an All-American as a freshman in 2011. Both Overton and Gray are tied for the conference lead with eight victories each.
Fisher will be making his second start of the season in his 15th appearance for Oklahoma. The senior from Talequah, Okla. has fanned 30 batters in 27 1/3 innings with just three walks on the season.
Head coach Sunny Galloway is in his 17th season at the helm for Oklahoma. The Sooners are seven wins away from posting their fifth consecutive 40 win season. Galloway is 671-328-1 (.672) as the leader of the Oklahoma baseball program, who he led back to the College World Series in 2010 for the first time since 1995.
While West Virginia is coming off a tough loss at the hands of 17th ranked Pitt, the Sooners suffered a 2-0 loss to Dallas Baptist on Tuesday, producing just three hits in the contest, two by leadoff hitter Matt Obreste. Starter Adam Choplick left after suffering an injury while fielding a bunt in the second inning, which forced the Sooners to go to the bullpen for the final 21 outs.
West Virginia’s pitching staff sports an impressive 3.78 ERA for the season having struck out 268 batters. It is more impressive given the staff’s 6.04 ERA in 2012.
Oklahoma’s pitching staff shows an even more impressive 2.83 ERA for the season and as a staff has struck out 408 hitters.
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Junior Ryan Tuntland leads the Mountaineers at the plate with a .344 batting average with seven doubles, a triple, two HRs and 26 RBI. Junior left fielder Jacob Rice, who had two hits against Pitt on Tuesday, is hitting .331 with 12 doubles, two homers, 21 RBI and eight stolen bases.
Juniors Ryan McBroom (1B, 8 HRs) and Matt Frazer (DH, 6 HRs) are tied for the team lead with 31 RBI. Catcher Alan Filauro is third on the team with four homers and is coming off a weekend series where he caught 31 innings and drove in the winning run in both games of the Saturday doubleheader sweep of Kansas.
Oklahoma is led at the plate by junior Matt Obreste who is batting an eye popping .434 with 17 doubles, four triples, 10 homers and 48 RBI. Senior Max White is batting .318 with eight doubles, 3 homers and 27 RBI. Jack Mayfield is second on the team with six homers, tied for second with 10 doubles and tied for second with 27 RBI.
Freshman Craig Aiken, who leads Oklahoma with 13 stolen bases, is coming off a weekend series at Texas Tech where he batted 5-12 with two RBI and three runs scored. Aiken is tied for eighth in the Big 12 in walks with 23 and he is batting .373 in conference games, good for sixth in the league.
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This is WVU’s second ever game against Oklahoma. The Mountaineers and Sooners met in an early season tournament in 2012, with Oklahoma prevailing 5-2.
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Oklahoma has not lost a game when leading in the first inning. When the Sooners lead after eight, their record is 25-1. Jacob Evans is the team’s closer. He is 5-1 with eight saves in 20 appearances. He has fanned 32 and walked just six in 35 innings. Batters are hitting .160 off Evans.
The Sooners are 6-6 on the road this season.
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WVU finished the season 7-1 at Hawley Field and has a 13-2 record at home this season including games in Charleston and Beckley. WVU is 23-7 when scoring first. The Mountaineers sport a record of 20-3 when out hitting an opponent and are 20-2 when leading after eight innings.
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Junior Pascal Paul is WVU’s closer posting a record of 3-3 with a 2.51 ERA and six saves in 20 appearances for the Mountaineers. Paul has fanned 24 and walked 11 in 28 2/3 innings for WVU and batters are hitting .250 off him.
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Fan interest in WVU baseball appears to be at an all time high. The Mountaineers set a Hawley Field attendance record this past Tuesday against Pitt with 2,535 cramming into the 1,500 seat venue. The previous mark was 1,174.
Last weekend in Beckley the Mountaineers played in front of 2,053 on Friday night and then another 1,159 on Saturday.
Reports are that ticket sales for this weekends series have been brisk. Reserved seats are $7 and general admission is $5 when purchased in advance. Tickets at the gate are $9 for reserved and $7 for general admission.
The Mountaineer Sports Network will again be carrying the radio broadcast across select affiliates for the weekend with excellent play-by-play man Kyle Wiggs on the mike for MSN. Saturday’s game will be carried on SiriusXM Channel 91 (College Sports Nation).
MSN will also be simulcasting the video feed for free at WVUSports.com for fans outside the area with the play by play coming from the radio broadcast.