From Staff Reports
The West Virginia University baseball team will close out the regular season this weekend against Big 12 foe Oklahoma State at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., and there will be a great deal on the line.
The Mountaineers (30-22, 12-9 Big 12) enter the weekend series in second place in the conference, trailing Kansas State by two games in the Big 12 standings. The Cowboys (36-13, 11-9 Big 12) currently sit in fourth place in the conference.
“They play with a lot of confidence, and it is an unbelievable coaching staff,” said WVU first-year head coach Randy Mazey. “They’re all new, and they’re all really good friends of mine, which never makes it fun to play against them. It’s going to be a pretty cut-throat weekend. Their park is an offensive place, so hopefully our power and extra-base hits will show up down there.”
Mazey will send senior right-hander Dan Dierdorff (4-6, 4.82 ERA) to the mound for Thursday’s opener, while sophomore left-hander John Means (4-3, 3.61 ERA) will start on Friday. Saturday’s starter has yet to be determined.
Mazey said following WVU’s loss to Marshall in Beckley Tuesday that Mountaineer ace Harrison Musgrave would start this weekend only if it means winning the conference. If not, they’ll hold him out to start the first game of the Big 12 tournament.
WVU has the seventh-best team ERA in the Big 12 at 3.94, the lowest the team ERA has been since the 1974 staff posted a 3.04 ERA. The team is batting at a .281 clip, ranking fourth in the conference.
Junior third baseman Ryan Tuntland leads the Mountaineers at the plate, batting .343 on the year with nine doubles, one triple, three home runs and 31 RBIs. Junior left fielder Jacob Rice is hitting .327 with 12 doubles, two homers, 24 RBIs and 11 stolen bases. Junior first baseman Ryan McBroom has 16 doubles, 11 homers and 43 RBIs to lead the team in all three categories, while junior designated hitter Matt Frazer has 12 doubles, six homers and 36 RBIs. Senior right fielder Brady Wilson and sophomore center fielder Bobby Boyd have 18 and 15 stolen bases, respectively.
Oklahoma State coach Josh Holliday is expected to start sophomore right-hander Jason Hursh (5-4, 2.67 ERA) on Thursday, sophomore left-hander Tyler Nurdin (3-2, 2.01 ERA) on Friday and junior right-hander Mark Robinette (5-0, 3.38 ERA) in Saturday’s finale.
The Cowboys are No. 3 in the Big 12 with a 2.78 staff ERA, while the offense is ranked No. 2 with a .291 batting average.
Oklahoma State is led at the plate by junior outfielder Saulyer Saxon, who is hitting .344 with seven doubles, one triple and 16 RBIs. Five players have 10 or more doubles, including sophomore infielder Zach Fish with 16 doubles, seven homers and 39 RBIs.
Oklahoma State leads the all-time series (3-0) as West Virginia was swept, opening the 1996 season in Stillwater.
Today’s opener will begin at 7:30 p.m., Friday’s game is set for 7:30 p.m. and Saturday’s finale will be at 4 p.m.