The sophomore from Blanco, Tex., has just 18 hits on the season,which works out to a .212 average so far. That's almost 60 points lower than his .270 mark of a year ago, but like many old school metrics, it only tells a small part of the story.
Although he'd certainly like to push his batting average back up, he's still been a spark for the Mountaineers, as he again demonstrated in Friday's 5-4 win over #3 TCU at Monongalia County Ballpark. In five plate appearances, he got aboard three times on a pair of walks and a triple, and scored twice to help secure WVU's 20th win of the season.
After the Horned Frogs scored in the top of the first, Gray led off with his three-bagger down the right field line, then scooted home on Ivan Gonzalez' sacrifice fly to tie things up at 1-1. That response was big from a psychological standpoint, as it showed WVU was in the contest for the long haul. In the fifth, Gray was at it again, wangling a walk to put two Mountaineers on base, then coming around to score on a single to give WVU a 4-1 lead. That run proved to be crucial, as it allowed West Virginia to weather TCU's rally in the ninth inning and keep the score tied.
"Lat year I hit in the bottom of the lineup and was trying to just bunt and get on and move guys over," Gray said of his progression. "That's kind of the same approach this year. Coach Mazey and Coach Sabins are working on my approach on leading off innings."
A big part of that approach is being patient and selective at the plate. He has 26 walks -- leading the team by seven in that category -- which gives him an on-base percentage of .402. That's the third best mark on the squad, and coupled with six stolen bases in nine attempts, makes him a threat every time he comes to the plate.
Playing with the "keep grinding" mentality that Mazey espouses, Gray was confident that WVU could bounce back, even after TCU rallied to tie the score late.
"Our lineup this year is one of the best I've been a part of," he said. "When we got that out in the ninth with it tied I knew we were going to win this thing."