The West Virginia University baseball team got its first taste of the NCAA tournament under coach Randy Mazey two seasons ago.
Now, after missing out on the postseason in 2018, the Mountaineers are playing like a team that plans on being a part of baseball’s big dance once again.
WVU (20-12) has piled up Big 12 series wins against ranked Oklahoma and Oklahoma State teams each of the last two weekends, and has another shot at a ranked team as No. 11 Texas Tech comes to Morgantown for a three-game series against the Mountaineers at Monongalia County Ballpark.
Before each of WVU’s previous two series wins, there was a mid-week contest against a rival school. Two weeks ago the Mountaineers used a lopsided win against Marshall in Charleston to help put the memory of losing three straight games at Baylor in the past. It also helped propel West Virginia to two wins against visiting Oklahoma that weekend.
Last week, the Mountaineers beat Pitt prior to grabbing two more conference wins, this time at the expense of Oklahoma State.
Now, with a strong Red Raider team due up next on the schedule, WVU is again coming off a win against an old rival.
The Mountaineers jumped out to an early lead and cruised to an 8-1 win at Maryland on Wednesday with starting pticher Nick Snyder (5-1) picking up the win. Snyder, a left-hander who checks in at 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds, also got the win in the Marshall game. He pitched well last week against Pitt, allowing one run on one hit while striking out five in five innings of work but did not factor in the decision against the Panthers.
Wednesday against the Terrapins, Snyder went five innings again, allowing one run on three hits to go with six strikeouts.
Being able to keep the momentum rolling from series to series means picking up wins during the week, and Mazey said after Wednesday’s game the Mountaineers have been able to accomplish that in large part because of Snyder’s work on the mound in those games.
“Snyder was Snyder,” Mazey said. “He was really good again and he’s given us a chance to win every game in the middle of the week. If you’re going to have a great season, you’ve got to win these mid-week games.”
Texas Tech (22-9, 5-4 Big 12) presents another challenge to this West Virginia team that has been playing its best baseball of the season since suffering the sweep at Baylor to open conference play, but at 4-5 still sits below .500 in Big 12 games.
The Red Raiders have won four of their last six games, most recently a 10-5 Tuesday victory against New Mexico State.
Senior first baseman Cameron Warren leads Texas Tech with eight home runs this season and 40 runs batted in.
On the mound, freshman Micah Dallas has found himself in the weekend rotation of starting pitchers for the Red Raiders in recent weeks, joining juniors Caleb Kilian and Erikson Lanning as the expected starters against the Mountaineers in Morgantown.
“The last eight or 10 games, we’ve been playing really good,” Mazey said. “I feel really good where we’re at right now. We’ve got a huge weekend coming up and we really have to play well against a good team this weekend.”
First pitch Friday is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Saturday’s game will get started at 4 p.m. after WVU’s Gold-Blue spring football game earlier in the day. Sunday’s series finale is on the schedule for 1 p.m.