By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Marshall and West Virginia didn’t play each other when both teams were in Myrtle Beach for the Caravelle Resorts Baseball at the Beach Tournament. Still, their coaches learned a little more about each other's teams.
The scouting opportunities should come in handy when the rivals meet at 4 p.m. today at Charleston’s Appalachian Power Park. It will be a home game for Marshall, which will visit Morgantown April 23.
There will not be a third game in the series, unlike last year when the Thundering Herd took two of three. That included a 6-5 win in the rubber game at Beckley’s Linda K. Epling Stadium. The crowd of 2,103 was the highest of the three meetings.
Marshall lost all four of its games at Myrtle Beach, while the Mountaineers went 3-0. Since then, the Herd took two of three in its Conference USA opener at East Carolina and lost two of three against Southern Miss last weekend.
“They’re playing really well right now,” second-year WVU head coach Randy Mazey told WVUSports.com. “We saw them down in Myrtle Beach a couple weeks ago, and I think they went down there and didn’t win a game. Then they turn around and win two out of three at East Carolina and then beat Southern Miss in a conference game this past weekend. So they’re right in the middle of the pack in their conference, and they always get fired up to play the Mountaineers. It should be an exciting game, no matter what.”
Jeff Waggoner, now in his eighth season with the Herd, saw WVU beat Duke 3-1.
“They are a really good offensive team,” Waggoner said of the Mountaineers. “Coach Mazey does a really good job coaching them. They have been really good of late; had a good West Coast swing (five wins in seven games). It is going to be a great challenge for us.”
Senior Ryan McBroom leads the Mountaineers (10-6) with a .365 average, five home runs and 23 runs batted in.
Bobby Boyd, a junior center fielder, was 8 for 17 (.471) out west, including a double, three walks and five stolen bases.
“He could really, really be a great player,” Mazey said of Boyd. “He does a lot of things. He’s made some great defensive plays in the outfield this year, and he’s had games where he’s had four hits. He steals bases, and he changes the way other teams do things. That gives the guys behind him a chance to see some good pitches.”
Mazey will go with left-hander John Means on the mound. The junior is 3-1 with a 1.64 earned run average with 14 strikeouts in 22 innings pitched. He missed a start last weekend due to scheduling changes.
Waggoner said he will decide on his starter today.
Marshall (6-12) has been marked by inconsistency early in the season.
“We have been good at times,” Waggoner said. “We’re battling through injuries to our (leadoff) hitter and our three-hole hitter, and some other guys are nicked up. Our offense has not produced, but it has gotten better lately. Our team is built around pitching and defense.”
True freshman Corey Bird, who played for Class AA state champion Herbert Hoover last season, has turf toe and ankle injury, and Cory Garrastazu is battling through a wrist issue.
Garrastazu is the team’s leading hitter at .347.
— E-mail: email@example.com and follow on Twitter@GaryFauber.
By Gary Fauber
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