By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
The month of March will roar in this Friday, and WVU Tech baseball coach Lawrence Nesselrodt could not be happier.
“Not just for maybe warmer weather, but for a softer schedule,” Nesselrodt joked.
The Golden Bears are off to a cool 2-7 start, but that can be directly attributed to the schedule. The season started with a three-game series at Tennessee Wesleyan — the 2012 NAIA National Champions.
Today, things will be just as challenging when WVU Tech makes its first appearance at Linda K. Epling Stadium in Beckley. The Bears will host a 1 p.m. doubleheader against Point Park (Pa.), which finished fifth at the NAIA World Series last year and was No. 5 in preseason rankings for 2013.
The doubleheader was originally scheduled for Tuesday.
“We definitely have been challenged this season,” Nesselrodt said. “But our goal is to reach that level and I have always believed you have to play that type of competition to get there.”
Tech dropped its first six games before beating Ohio Valley 14-4 on Saturday. Right-hander pitcher Taylor Carter had a no-hitter through seven innings before giving up a double to start the eighth. Carter surrendered only that hit and had 16 strikeouts in the win.
Today’s starter for the first game will be Craig Johnson, who was the ace of Chapmanville’s 2011 Class AA state championship team. Starting Game 2 will be Josh Smetana, a native of Blue Springs, Mont.
Offensively, the Bears have gotten production out of their starting outfield.
Center fielder Kevin Bocock, the leadoff hitter, set a school record last season with 38 stolen bases. Left fielder Ryan Kessinger, who hits in the No. 2 hole, joined Bocock in recording three-hit game against Ohio Valley.
Right fielder Mark Culmer had a rare 7-for-7 day in a doubleheader sweep at the hands of Shawnee State last week.
Grant Williams, a member of the 2012 Prospect League Champion West Virginia Miners, provides versatility and leadership for the Bears. He has played eight of the nine positions in his Tech career, even getting a pitching win this season.
Tech, which split a doubleheader with Cincinnati Clermont on Sunday, will also play at Epling Stadium Tuesday, March 5, against Shawnee State and March 17 against Ohio University-Chillicothe.
— E-mail: gfauber@