Atlanta, GA.- The West Virginia University baseball team is set to open their 2021 season tomorrow afternoon on the road against Georgia State University.
The Mountaineers will play four games in three days against the Panthers at their home ballpark, the GSU Baseball Complex in Atlanta.
The Panthers are coming off their COVID-19 shortened season in which they finished 9-7 overall, including winning three of their last four games, in what was the first season for newly minted manager Brad Stromdahl.
Stromdahl returned to GSU to manage the Panthers after previously acting as an assistant in Atlanta, and having recent success at NAIA level Georgia Gwinnett.
Fifth-year senior Elian Merejo is surely be one of the leaders for the Panthers. The power-hitting catcher from Orlando, Florida was named a preseason All-American by NCBWA after batting .407 with five home runs and thirteen RBI’s last season.
In their 16 game 2020 season, Merejo finished in the top five in the Sun Belt for average, home runs, slugging percentage, on-base percentage and walks, on the way to earning Sun Belt Conference Breakout Player of the Year by D1baseball.com.
The Panthers received national attention last season with votes in the rankings after impressive early season wins against Cincinnati, Saint Johns, and Saint Peters.
Mountaineer ace Jackson Wolf and the rest of the Mountaineer pitching staff, will have their work cut out for them trying to limit the production of Merejo.
Wolf, the preseason All-American, is set to make his second straight opening-day start for the Mountaineers. Wolf earned multiple preseason honors after finishing 3-1 during the 2020 season, finishing with an minuscule 1.05 ERA.
For the Panthers, Stromdahl will give the nod to sophomore Ryan Watson (2-1, 5.95 ERA) in game one.
The Mountaineer rotation that was planned to be sparked by the 1-2 punch of Wolf and Ryan Bergert, was thrown astray during the offseason when head coach Randy Mazey announced Bergert would miss the entire season recovering from surgery.
Mazey will give the remaining three starts against the Panthers to sophomore southpaw Jake Carr, junior Adam Tulloch and sophomore Tyler Strechay.
The Mountaineer baseball team has only faced Georgia State one time, coming in early 2019, when they knocked off the Panthers 8-2.
After going 11-5 last season, the Mazey’s club earned their highest preseason ranking in the history of the program, coming in at #14.
In addition to the high ranking, the season will showcase the class that Mazey considered to be a 17-man group that could go down as the most talented in program history.
First pitch is set for 2:00 P.M. from Atlanta.