Kevin Kinder \ BlueGoldNews.com

West Virginia Faces Three Foes Over Four Days, Including Defending National Champion Coastal Carolina

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia opens a key four-game weekend road trip at Myrtle Beach with George Mason, then faces defending national champion Coastal Carolina twice in three games.

The season continues for the West Virginia University baseball team at the Caravelle Resort Tournament this weekend, with two games at No. 19 and defending national champion Coastal Carolina and single games against George Mason and Ball State, from Feb. 24-27. The Caravelle Resort Tournament begins for the Mountaineers on Friday, Feb. 24, at 3 p.m. ET, against George Mason. Saturday, the Mountaineers play at Coastal Carolina at 2 p.m., before taking on Ball State on Sunday at 11 a.m. The weekend concludes at Coastal Carolina on Monday at noon.

WVU’s two neutral site contests will be played at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelican Ballpark, home of the Class-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans, in Myrtle Beach. West Virginia’s two games at Coastal Carolina will be played in Conway, at the Chanticleers’ home ballpark, Springs Brooks Stadium. The Mountaineers will play a defending NCAA champion for the first time in program history and travels to Myrtle Beach for the 11th time since 2005.

WVU comes off a 1-2 opening weekend at Charlotte. West Virginia won the series finale, 6-3, after falling in Friday’s opener, 6-3, and on Saturday, 13-2. Conner Dotson earned the win on Sunday, allowing one run in 6.0 innings, as every batter in the Mountaineer lineup recorded at least one hit. George Mason (2-1) is coming off a 21-1 win against Virginia Military Institute after opening the year with a 12-8 loss at UNC Wilmington and a 3-1 win over Appalachian State. The Chanticleers (2-3), who won their first NCAA title a year ago, opened the season with a four-team tournament at home. CCU’s title defense started with an 8-5 win over Richmond before losing its next three. On Wednesday, Coastal defeated College of Charleston, 16-7.The Cardinals (2-1) began the year with two of three games against top-25 opponents. The season opened with an 8-3 win on opening day against No. 22 Maryland before a 3-2 win over Alabama State and a 10-4 loss to No. 6 Louisville.

Four right-handers are the projected starters for the Mountaineers. Junior BJ Myers will get the start on Friday night against George Mason righty Tyler Zombro. Sophomore Michael Grove will take the mound on Saturday at Coastal Carolina against fellow righty Andrew Beckwith. On Sunday, freshman Carter Camp makes his first career start against Ball State. Dotson gets the ball in Monday’s finale and will face CCU right-hander Zack Hopeck.

LAST WEEK: OPENING WEEKEND AT CHARLOTTE

West Virginia opened the 2017 season with a three-game series at Charlotte, where the Mountaineers went 1-2. WVU won the series finale, 6-3, after falling on opening day, 6-3, and 13-2 on Saturday. The Mountaineers rallied from two down in the seventh inning, but it was not enough in a 6-3 loss on opening day. The Mountaineers trailed 2-0 early but scored two in the fifth inning on a two-run homer by junior Kyle Davis to tie the game. WVU took a 3-2 lead in the top of the seventh, but the 49ers answered with four runs in the bottom of the inning. Sophomore Cole Austin led WVU with a career-high three hits. Junior starter BJ Myers pitched 6.1 innings and allowed four runs on six hits and suffered the loss. He struck out three and didn’t surrender a walk.

WVU lost the second game of the series, 13-2, on Saturday. Sophomore Darius Hill led the Mountaineers with two hits and drove in both WVU runs. Sophomore starter Michael Grove allowed four runs on six hits. He struck out four and walked two and suffered the loss. Nine Mountaineers made their career debuts on Saturday.

Every Mountaineer had a hit and sophomore right-hander Conner Dotson pitched 6.0 strong innings in Sunday’s 6-3 win. Dotson allowed one run on seven hits and WVU’s six runs came on 12 hits. The 49ers (2-1) also had 12 hits, but were held to three runs and four West Virginia pitchers helped Charlotte strand 11 baserunners. The WVU offense was led by freshman Brandon White, who had a career-best three hits and drove in the first two runs of his career. Hill had a two-hit, two-RBI game for the second day in a row.

SCOUTING GEORGE MASON
George Mason enters the weekend with a 2-1 record after opening the year in Wilmington, N.C. The Patriots began the year with a 12-8 loss at No. 24 UNC Wilmington before a 3-1 win against Appalachian State and a 21-1 victory over Virginia Military Institute.

Tyler Nelin leads the team with a .583 batting average and seven RBIs and is tied with Logan Driscoll for the team lead with seven hits. Brian Marconi and Zach Mort both are 1-0 and post a 1.50 ERA in 6.0 innings pitched. Four relievers have pitched at least one inning and have a 0.00 ERA. The Patriots are coached by Bill Brown, in his 37th season. A former catcher at George Mason, Brown owns a 973-886-7 record at his alma mater and is the team’s winningest coach.

West Virginia owns a 3-3 record against George Mason, including a 1-1 mark in Myrtle Beach.

The Mountaineers are 2-1 at home, thanks to a series win in 1994. The series was evened at 2-2 after a road loss in 1995. The final two meetings came at the Baseball at the Beach tournament in Myrtle Beach. In 2008, West Virginia claimed a 4-1 win, while the Patriots evened up the series again in 2012, with a 1-0 win.

SCOUTING COASTAL CAROLINA

After winning its first NCAA title last season, Coastal Carolina is 2-3 after opening the year at home with the Baseball at the Beach tournament. After three consecutive losses, CCU beat College of Charleston, 16-7, on Wednesday. Billy Cooke leads the team with a .438 batting average and seven hits. Peyton Isaacson is second with a .417 average and five hits. On the mound, Alex Cunningham is 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA. Will Latcham, who has pitched 4.0 innings in relief, leads the team with a 0.00 ERA and is tied for the lead with five strikeouts. Gary Gilmore is in his 22nd season as the head coach at Coastal Carolina. He is 849-441 with the Chanticleers, which ranks No. 35 all-time on the NCAA D-I wins list. The 2016 National Coach of the Year, he has guided CCU to 14 NCAA Tournaments, three super regionals and a national title in 2016.

The Mountaineers are 2-7 all-time against the Chanticleers, with all nine games coming in either Myrtle Beach or Conway since 2005. Coastal Carolina won the first game, 13-2 in 2005. The two teams split in 2006, including a 10-3 WVU win. CCU won the next four games, from 2007-10. In 2014, WVU traveled to Myrtle Beach, where they posted a 6-2 victory. Current Mountaineer Jackson Cramer started at first base and walked twice. The 2015 matchup went 13 innings before CCU prevailed for a 4-3 win. Kyle Davis had two hits and an RBI, Cramer had one hit and Conner Dotson pitched the final two innings, allowing one earned run on two hits with three strikeouts.

Saturday’s meeting at Coastal Carolina marks the first time in team history that the Mountaineers have faced a team the year after winning a national championship. West Virginia has faced a team once in the same season that they won a national title, in 1955 against Wake Forest. WVU hosted Wake Forest in the NCAA Tournament, with the Demon Deacons winning two out of three games and advancing to the College World Series. West Virginia lost the opener, 5-1, on May 28, before a 9-7 victory on May 30. In the finale, Wake Forest earned a 6-5 win. WVU handed Wake Forest one of its seven losses in its national championship campaign.

SCOUTING BALL STATE

Ball State enters the weekend with a 2-1 record after the Cardinals played a pair of ranked teams in Clearwater, Florida. BSU opened the year with an 8-3 win over No. 22 Maryland, followed by a 3-2 victory against Alabama State. The Cardinals closed the weekend with a 10-4 loss to No. 6 Louisville. Trent Theisen leads the team with a .500 batting average and is tied for second with four hits. Alex Maloney leads the team with five hits and has two RBI with a .417 average. Colin Brockhouse is 1-0 thanks to 4.1 scoreless innings in relief in Ball State’s upset win over Maryland. He allowed one hit with eight strikeouts and is one of three pitchers with a 0.00 ERA and at least three innings pitched.

he Cardinals are led by Rich Maloney, in his 12th season. He owns a 734-482-1 career record and a 393-238-1 record at BSU. He was at Ball State from 1996-2002, coached at Michigan from 2003-12 and returned to the Cardinals in 2013. He has guided Ball State to four MAC regular-season titles, and is a three-time MAC Coach of the Year, most recently in 2014. West Virginia is 1-0 all-time against Ball State, thanks to a 7-6 win at the 2015 Chanticleer Classic in Myrtle Beach. Jackson Cramer started at first base and had an RBI on one hit. Kyle Davis also had a hit and started in left field.

 


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