Playing their own brand of baseball is exactly what West Virginia does. Over the last two weekends, the Mountaineers have thrust themselves into one of the sleeper teams in the Big 12 as they took down then-No. 10 TCU on the road last weekend, before the brooms came out this weekend in a big series sweep against Baylor.
Five wins in your first six conference games is an impressive feat for this young West Virginia team. A lineup which features four underclassmen, never seems to flinch, and has West Virginia in the driver’s seat early in conference play.
As starter Jacob Watters got chased on Friday night, giving up five runs in the first four innings, the Mountaineers never seemed to flinch. West Virginia scored three unanswered runs, including a walk-off walk, by Nathan Blasick — another underclassman.
“Usually [Blasick is] in there with the game on the line, just like tonight,” West Virginia head coach Randy Mazey said. “He’s done it before, and he’s had some really big hits for us. That’s his role, and he has accepted that role.”
Accepting their role is just what many guys on this West Virginia roster have done this season. One of those guys is Carlson Reed.
The sophomore, started out as West Virginia’s Friday night starter this year, but has now found a spot in the bullpen. Reed, has taken this new role and ran with it, not allowing a run in his five previous outings, including on Friday night against Baylor.
On Saturday, another sophomore pitcher — Ben Hampton pitched into the eighth inning, striking out five, and surrendering only two runs in the process. The Mountaineer offense backed up Hampton, scoring six runs in the sixth and seventh innings, putting the Mountaineers in control of the weekend.
Then on Sunday, that resiliency was on display once again. After going up 6-0 within the first two innings, the Mountaineers seemed to be on their way to a series sweep. A five-run fourth inning from the Bears, cut the Mountaineer lead to one, but the West Virginia bullpen never blinked.
Freshman Chris Sleeper threw four scoreless innings, before Trey Braithwaite slammed the door shut in the ninth. The win secured West Virginia’s first Big 12 series sweep since 2016, and now has them sitting at the top of the Big 12 standings.
“It’s so hard to win a series, let alone sweep a series,” Mazey said. “A sweep just has a nice ring to it.”
As for being at the top of the Big 12 standings, Mazey said he isn’t paying much attention to it.
“I don’t even pay attention to that stuff. We just try to win them one game at a time,” Mazey said. “Being in first place right now literally means nothing. It just means we’ve played pretty well so far. But that doesn’t mean you’re going to play well next weekend.”
That next weekend is going to be a tall task for the Mountaineers. West Virginia is set to host Oklahoma State, who has won seven of their first nine Big 12 games, and sits at No. 5 in the country.