MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–On Sunday, West Virginia’s baseball team suffered a heartbreaking loss to Texas A&M and marked the end of the road for the Mountaineers.
While the ending was tough for players, coaches and fans to swallow, it cannot possibly define the amazing season WVU put together.
“All I can do is treat this like a win,” head coach Randy Mazey said. “Big picture, I think this is a win. You can’t let one game, one pitch or one inning overshadow what our program has accomplished and how far we’ve come and what we’ve done. I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to let one inning of baseball or one game dictate my feeling about West Virginia baseball, because I couldn’t be prouder of anybody in that locker room. Everybody on that team had a lot to do with us being here. You guys have been around, some of you longer than I have. This may go down as the greatest team that West Virginia baseball has ever put together. So, how could you let one pitch, or one at bat, or one inning overshadow what this group of kids has accomplished. I’m not going to do that. I’m going to walk out of here like we just had a major victory, because I think we did.”
Prior to the start of the baseball season, the Mountaineers were picked to finish sixth. However, WVU finished fourth and went on to make it to the Big 12 Championship game, where they lost to Oklahoma State.
Then the Mountaineers not only made the NCAA Tournament but also hosted a regional.
For WVU, it was a season for the record books.
Junior pitcher Alek Manoah broke the single season strikeout record with 144. Senior Darius Hill broke the games played record, games started record, career at-bats record and doubles record.
During the regional opener against Fordham, the Mountaineers broke the attendance record with a crowd of 4,355.
WVU won six Big 12 Conference series this season, which are its most conference series victories since it won six Big East series in 2003.
The Mountaineers had eight players selected in the 2019 MLB Draft, which broke the previous record of six.
Those are just a few of the tremendous feats this team accomplished.
While the loss to Texas A&M was devastating, it is important to remember just how far this baseball program has came and that the best is yet to come.
“This program will never be the same. It’s no longer an afterthought; it’s no longer a school that everyone can say, ‘We’re going to beat West Virginia this weekend.’ We’re here to play,” senior right fielder Darius Hill said. “The guys that are coming in, the guys that are here are high-level players that can compete with anyone in the country, and I think we proved that over the past few weeks. Even though we didn’t win all the time, I think we’re in a place now that this program is really going to go to new heights.”
If the loss was painful for the fans, imagine how the four seniors and the players that will go on to play in the major leagues feel.
It was a gut-wrenching loss for everyone.
“It’s really difficult,” Hill said. “You try to stay optimistic, obviously. It’s a great group of guys in there. You try to feel like you did everything you could yourself to help everyone in there, help the program. At the end of the day, you’ve just got to be happy with where you are and where it’s going to go.”
For Hill, Ivan Gonzalez, Andrew Zitel and Zach Reid, it wasn’t the ending they had hoped but when they committed to the program, this was just a goal that they helped accomplish.
“Despite the hard loss, we were talking in the locker room together about how we feel like we made our mark on this program,” Hill said. “Despite all of the tough times and everything that may have gone wrong, I think the positives outweigh anything that ever went wrong for us. Myself, Ivan, Zitel, Zach Reid, all the older guys on the team. It’s tough knowing that today’s the last day, but I think looking back in a couple of weeks from now, I think it’s something we’ll look back on with some happiness and not sadness.
Sunday’s loss will sting for coaches, players and fans for a long time but this team was a special bunch that will not be forgotten for years to come.
Cover Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS