WVU baseball: Mountaineers host Baylor at Appalachian Power Park this weekend
A lot has been written about West Virginia left-handed pitcher Harrison Musgrave, and rightfully so, but the reigning Big 12 Pitcher of the Year is not the Mountaineers’ only capable arm.
WVU’s pitching prowess will be on display this weekend during a three-game series against visiting Baylor at Appalachian Power Park to open the Big 12 portion of he Mountaineers’ schedule. Musgrave (3-1, 1.98 earned run average, 27 strikeouts in 41 innings pitched) will get the ball in today’s series opener with Sean Carley (4-0, 2.82 ERA, 27 strikeouts, 38.1 IP) scheduled to start against the Bears on Saturday and lefty John Means (4.1, 1.45 ERA, 19 strikeouts, 31 IP) tabbed to start the series finale Sunday.
“They’re all pitching well because they’re all really good pitchers,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “They’ve kept us in every game they pitched so far. The success of our team has hinged around those three guys.”
Baylor (13-11, 4-2 Big 12) has its own stable of capable weekend pitchers on tap for WVU. Lefty Brad Kuntz, today’s starter, is 4-0 with a 1.64 ERA and 31 strikeouts and 14 walks in 33 innings. Right-handers Austin Stone (3-1, 0.97 ERA, 24 strikeouts, 37 IP) and Dillon Newman (2-1, 2.86 ERA, 29 strikeouts, 28.1 IP) will handle the starting pitching duties for the Bears on Saturday and Sunday. Newman and Stone are the last two Big 12 Pitchers of the Week, and each faced West Virginia last season in Waco, Texas.
“We faced both of those guys last year,” he said. “They both pitched really well against us. Their Friday night guy (Kuntz) is a kid I had in my office at TCU. He was a good high school pitcher out of Texas and he’s gotten a lot better since he’s been at Baylor. That’s the strength of their team too so it should be a pretty good pitching match this weekend.”
Senior first baseman Ryan McBroom and junior second baseman Billy Fleming have provided pop at the top of the West Virginia batting order so far this season. McBroom leads the team with five home runs and 27 runs batted in and ranks No. 8 in school history with 26 career home runs. Fleming went 11-for-17 last week in four games and leads WVU with a .405 batting average.
“(McBroom) is a lot better hitter right now than he was last year,” Mazey said. “He’s gotten a lot more mature and has done a good job. He and Billy Fleming in the middle of the lineup have been good for us. Both of those guys are older kids that have been around for a while.”
Baylor does not have any standouts at the plate so far this season. Senior Brett Doe leads the Bears with a .313 batting average while Darren Sheppherd and Grayson Porter are tied for the team lead with two home runs each.
The Bears have been good at home, posting a 12-3 record in Waco, but the road has not been kind. Baylor is 1-5 in away games and 0-3 at neutral sites. The Mountaineers are making their first appearance of the season in Charleston after a successful campaign at Appalachian Power Park in 2013.
“We had a great time (in Charleston last season),” Mazey said. “The fan support was tremendous. The atmosphere was great. We set some records in WVU baseball for attendance and the program’s been in existence for over 100 years. I’m very fond of coming down here and seeing the support from all the people. We’ve come a long, long way.”
Today’s first pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday’s game is scheduled for 4 p.m. with Sunday’s starting at 1:30 p.m.
Contact sportswriter Tom Bragg at email@example.com or 304-348-4871. Follow him on Twitter @TomBraggSports.