With thrilling victories over Big 12 Opponents TCU and Texas Tech, along with a dominating 22-9 victory over defending champion Coastal Carolina. The Mountaineers have thrived and matured faster than some would have imagined, proving that their unexpected run to the Big 12 tournament final last year was no fluke. Although a run ending in defeat, the Mountaineers have lost no momentum on their journey back to Oklahoma CIty.
Just a year later and a new sense of swagger looms around the West Virginia University Mountaineers baseball team. Finishing fourth in the Big 12 for the second year in a row, the Mountaineers are not the same team. Facing tougher competition earned the Mountaineers an RPI ranked 25, and the recognition they deserve after a 32-22 record.
Tuesday a program record 12 Mountaineers earned All-Big 12 Honors, highlighted by All-Big 12 First Team honoree Braden Zarbnisky. The sophomore from Marrieta, Ga posted a consistent .333 batting average, along with 11 stolen bases, and a formidable 2.67 era on the rubber; proving to be one of head coach Randy Mazey’s most versatile players.
Coach Mazey, working with a relatively young team that features two Seniors and three Juniors, has displayed an immense amount of tenacity and maturity. Prospering thru small ball or what those in Morgantown, like to call Mazey ball. The team’s .366 on base percentage led to a lot of the Eers’ success on the base paths. Accumulating 69 stolen bases on 102 attempts, is a result of Coach Mazey’s relentless advance, sacrifice, and hit-and-run\mentality.
Freshman Outfielder Brandon White was another beneficiary of Coach Mazey’s aggressive style of play. White became one of the Big 12’s most dangerous base stealers, tying fourth in the Big 12 with 14 stolen bases on the year. The Florida native earned All-Big 12 honorable mentions as well.
Juniors B.J. Myers and Kyle Davis earned All-Big 12 second team honors along with sophomore Michael Grove, who came on strong in the middle of the season making impressive weekday starts for the Mountaineers with a 2.87 ERA in 47 innings of work.
Among the other awardees Freshman pitcher Sam Kessler, Sophomores Jimmy Galusky, Darius Hill, Cole Austin, and Kyle Gray despite a slow start at the plate at the beginning of the season.
After season-ending injuries to Marques Inman and Connor Doctson; limited at times,Coach Mazey has exercised every player’s abilities.Going into the season Zarbnisky was focused on his role as a pitcher, until what looked to be Mazey’s everyday Designated Hitter Marques Inman was injured for the year. From there on out, Zarbnisky took command of the DH role. Ivan Gonzalez contributed not only behind the plate, but at third base also. Freshman Catcher Chase Illig stepped up behind the plate to allow more flexibility for Coach Mazey.
Conner Dotson, looked to be a weekend starter for the Mountaineers going into the year until his injury, was relieved to find out Freshman Alek Manoah was more than prepared to assume the role. After earning two saves early in the season, Manoah went on to make eight starts with a 2.64 ERA earning him a spot on the All-Big 12 Freshman team.
After a formidable .500 record in conference play and a star studded roster heading into the Big 12 tournament. The Mountaineers are scheduled to play the five-seed Baylor at 10 am in Oklahoma City to kickoff the Big 12 conference tournament.