By Cam Huffman
The 2012-13 school year has included many firsts for West Virginia University athletics. Another significant milestone will occur this weekend when WVU’s baseball team travels to Manhattan, Kan., for a three-game set with Kansas State at Tointon Family Stadium — the first-ever Big 12 series for the Mountaineer hardballers.
The action will begin at 5 p.m. tonight with the first game of a doubleheader. The second game will be played immediately following the first, with the final game Saturday at 3 p.m.
The radio broadcasts of the games, with Kyle Wiggs serving as the play-by-play announcer, will be carried live on WVUsports.com and on Beckley’s WWNR-AM.
The Mountaineers (7-9) will enter the Big 12 series fresh off an 8-7 win over rival Pitt on Tuesday.
“I’m actually pretty pleased,” said first-year head coach Randy Mazey of the start. “If things went a little differently at the end of games, we could really be about 10-6 right now. Our guys are playing hard, and they’re competing real well.
Sophomore lefty Harrison Musgrave will start Friday’s first game on the hill for WVU. He’s 1-1 with a 5.79 ERA. Junior right-hander Corey Walter (1-2, 4.02 ERA) will start the second game, with sophomore southpaw John Means taking his 2-0 record and 0.45 ERA to the mound on Saturday.
Means is second in the Big 12 in ERA, and he’s holding opponents to a .179 batting average, good enough four fourth in the league.
At the plate, WVU has posted a .303 team batting average, led by sophomore center fielder Bobby Boyd and junior left fielder Jacob Rice, who are hitting .409 and .403, respectively.
KSU (10-6) is coming off a midweek split with Northern Colorado.
The Wildcats will send sophomore right-hander Nate Williams (2-2, 2.96 ERA) to start the first game, senior lefty Joe Flattery (1-2, 4.87 ERA) the second game and sophomore right-hander Matt Wivinis (2-0, 4.81) ERA on Saturday.
KSU is hitting .312 as a team, led by sophomore infielder Shane Conlon, who’s batting .422 with three doubles, three home runs and 13 RBIs.
“They’ve lined up to be the best offensive team in the conference, and that just means we’re going to have to be on top of our game and match them offensively,” Mazey said. “We need to keep them under five or six runs a game.”
This will be the first-ever meeting between the two new league foes.
WVU will play its Big 12 home opener on March 22 at Charleston’s Appalachian Power Park against Texas Tech.
The Mountaineers will later play a three-game conference series at Beckley’s Linda K. Epling Stadium April 26-28.
— E-mail: chuffman