The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

April 22, 2014

Mountaineers ready for slate of rivalry games

MORGANTOWN — Looking to put together a late-season run to get into the NCAA championships, West Virginia faces a pair of midweek rivalry games in a crucial five-game week coming off winning two of three games at Oklahoma.

The Mountaineers play Maryland tonight at Hawley Field and then face Marshall on that same diamond on Wednesday. Both games start at 6 p.m.

The deciding game in the Oklahoma series was one of the most important and telling games of the year for WVU, erasing a 4-0 deficit in the fifth inning on the road to score a 9-5 victory.

“That’s what you call a character win,” Coach Randy Mazey said. “A game like that shows the character of your team. You’re down 4-0. Through five innings we have 10 hits and no runs, so the last eight hits we scored nine runs.”

It was WVU’s first come-from-behind victory of the season and showed Mazey exactly what he wanted to see.

“That’s just constantly grinding it out, a relentless mentality we talked about from the first day of the program,” he said.

What’s more, much of the damage was done by the bottom of the batting order, which had not been productive during the season.

“We’re getting help from the people we said we needed to get it from, the guys other than the top five guys in our lineup,” Mazey said. “Any time you get production from 6 through 9 in the lineup, we’re going to score some runs.”

Senior left-fielder Jacob Rice played so well in the Oklahoma series that he was named the Big 12’s co-Player of the Week after hitting .533 with eight hits in 15 at bats. Two of his hits were doubles, and he scored four runs and drove in four while also stealing a pair of bases.

Junior centerfielder Bobby Boyd, who has hit all season, went 9 for 18 to hit .500 in the Oklahoma series, bringing his team leading batting average to .380 for the season. One of his hits was a double, and he scored two runs and stole a base, giving him 15 for the season.

WVU carries a 19-16 record into the two non-conference before playing a weekend series at home against Big 12 rival Kansas State.

Sophomore left-hander Ross Vance (1-0) will get the start against Maryland after pitching a complete game last Tuesday against Ohio State, striking out 14. Vance allowed one run on eight hits with two walks.

Wednesday’s starter has not been decided.

Maryland comes in with a 24-14 record, 9-11 in the Big Ten. It, too, comes off a series victory, winning two of three against Georgia Tech.

The Terps are led by freshman infielder Brandon Lowe, who is batting .344 with seven doubles, one triple, one home run and 23 RBIs. Senior infielder Blake Schmit leads the team with 10 doubles, and sophomore infielder Jose Cuas has a team-leading five home runs and 29 RBIs.

WVU will be facing LHP Tayler Stiles (2-1, 2.55), who will be making his second start of the season for the Terps. Stiles has made 13 total appearances this season, holding opponents to a .237 average in 24.2 innings pitched.

The Mountaineers will be meeting Marshall (18-20, 8-9 Conference USA), which scored a four game sweep of West Virginia Tech last weekend. Freshman outfielder Corey Bird has a .288 batting average, two doubles and seven RBIs, while junior infielder TJ Diffenderfer leads the team with two home runs and 20 RBIs.

A link to live video and live stats will be available on WVUsports.com. The radio broadcast will be on select affiliates of the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG and fans can listen via AudioNow.

 

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