In the first game of a monumentally important five game homestand, West Virginia fell flat in a 7-5 loss in 10 innings to Canisius, who came into this game just 9-13 on the year and ranked No. 221 in RPI.
It was a frustrating night for head coach Randy Mazey, who had to pull some major strings with his pitching staff just to get through this game. After BJ Myers worked the first two innings to stay fresh for his start this weekend, the Mountaineers used eight pitchers in total tonight.
The WVU hurlers were in and out of the game with such frequency partially due to their lack of control and inability to stay in the strike zone. In the decisive 10th frame, WVU’s 10th and 11th walks on the night brought home Canisius’ sixth and seventh runs, and gave the Golden Griffins their decisive 7-5 advantage.
If you ask coach Mazey, the story of tonight’s game starts and ends with his pitchers’ inconsistency.
“We walked 11 guys. When you look at the stat sheet, just like we tried to tell them, this team is hitting .225. They’ve got a record that’s under .500, and we’ve got a big weekend coming up. You try and tell them not to overlook people. It’s a universal problem; not just at West Virginia but at schools everywhere. When you have letdowns, we try to avoid them as coaches, but we walked 11 guys. We walked 11 guys. MHS or UHS would have beat us tonight,” Mazey said.
“It was pretty obvious that I was looking for somebody to throw strikes. You bring a guy in and he walks a guy. You bring another guy in and he walks a guy. You just keep trying until somebody’s willing to step up and throw it over the plate.”
After coming away with a two-game sweep at Kansas over the weekend, West Virginia came home this week with an opportunity to really capture some momentum over the course of the next month. Including tonight, the Mountaineers play 26 of their next 30 games at home.
A big conference series with Oklahoma State looms this weekend, but the Mountaineers had to avoid an upset against Canisius over the next two days to really get a head of steam going into that series. That quest got started on the wrong foot tonight, as a young team that featured six freshmen in its starting lineup tonight fell prey to a trap game.
Despite the misgivings of youth, veteran outfielder KC Huth said he still sees potential in this squad, and that there are still opportunities left to make something of this year despite a 12-9 start.
“Even though we’re young, I feel we’re a very talented team, and we’re just waiting to really click and have a positive season. Nights like this are just an eye opener to us to make sure that we’re always working hard and not taking any team or any practice for granted, because it’ll show up on nights like these,” Huth said.
West Virginia and Canisius will be back in action tomorrow afternoon as they complete their two-game set in Morgantown. Despite the loss tonight, Huth said there isn’t any talk of making big changes to this team’s approach just yet.
“I really don’t think we need to change much,” he said, “We’re a good team, and we just need to keep playing solid baseball and just really have trust in anyone that steps on the field because from the top of the roster to the bottom of the roster we’ve got some good players. We all have trust on everyone that steps on the field.”