The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

April 14, 2014

WVU baseball drops seventh straight game

MORGANTOWN — One’s athletic skills are tested on a daily basis but every so often other aspects of an athlete’s makeup are tested, often far more important aspects in the game of life.

 And so it is today with the West Virginia baseball team, which has seen a solid start on its 2014 season turn sour with a seven-game losing streak, the latest being a 7-5 loss to Big 12 rival Oklahoma State, the second straight series sweep suffered by the Mountaineers.

When it had ended, coach Randy Mazey gathered his team around him down the left-field line for the normal post-game chat, this one carrying an important message about where they stand at present.

“I told the kids when bad things happen, that’s when your true character comes out,” Mazey said. “We’re going to run the bases, we’re going to sign some autographs, we’re going to have a good day with our families and we’re going to get back to work tomorrow.”

With that the coach with the seven-game losing streak went off and began playing with his 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter, as happy doing that as if that seven-game losing streak was a winning streak.

“It will turn,” he assured, before leaving to join his family.

That was very much the same sentiment that was offered by Mountaineer centerfielder Bobby Boyd, who tied a career high with four of the Mountaineers’ 12 hits in the game.

“I feel like just one win and we’ll be out of it and on another win streak,” Boyd said. “We just have to find a way to get that first win and I think things will roll from there. The same thing happened last year and we wound up finishing third in the Big 12.”

The problem in this game was that it was over before it began.

Mazey selected Michael Bennett to start the game and, in truth, even in defeat the starting pitching for the Mountaineers has been solid, an ERA lingering around 2.00.

This just wasn’t Bennett’s day, retiring only one batter – that an out given to him on a sacrifice bunt — while giving up three earned runs, swelling his ERA to 5.62 as his record dropped to 2-3.

Had he at least given himself a chance, Mazey might have given him a chance to work through his problems.

But Bennett would face only eight batters, the last two being walked on four straight pitches.

“I’ve been known as a patient guy, but there’s only so much you can take,” said Mazey, who applied the hook right there.

Things did not get much better for Zach Bargeron, who retired only two batters. He came on, hit a batter and then committed a balk and gave up a couple of singles to make it a four-run inning before he could get the side out.

From that point on WVU was playing catchup and couldn’t quite get the clutch hits it needed to get back into the game.

“It’s been really tough for us the past couple of games stringing together hits in clutch moments,” Boyd admitted. “Everyone is hitting the ball pretty well, one through nine. We just have to figure a way to get that last hit and score a run.”

The heart of the order Nos. 2-3-4 went 9-for-14 but all they could produce out of that was four runs as Oklahoma State clung to the lead throughout.

WVU did get some sanity in its pitching from reliever Ryan Tezak, who allowed five hits and two runs in six innings of relief while Pascal Paul was touched up for an unearned run and Ross Vance pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.

Right-fielder Zach Fish murdered the Mountaineers with a pair of hits and four RBI while reliever Vance Wheeland earned the win with 6.1 innings of six-hit work, allowing only one unearned run.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel

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