WVU baseball tops No. 12 TCU to open Big 12 play with a bang The Gold and Blue Nation Podcast

West Virginia baseball headed to Fort Worth as the underdog, but it's coming back to Morgantown with a pair of wins after taking its first Big 12 series over No. 12 TCU. GBN's Ryan Decker and Sam Coniglio recap an exciting three games for the Mountaineers before they look ahead to a four-game home stand against Marshall and Baylor. Subscribe to The Gold and Blue Nation Podcast, sponsored by Pritt & Spano, to have future episodes delivered to you. Download the free Gold and Blue Nation app on your favorite Apple or Android device for more coverage on WVU baseball throughout the season.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Randy Mazey and the WVU baseball coaching staff brought in five players via the transfer portal in the offseason.

Three were specifically added to bolster a young and unproven pitching staff.

One, Dayne Leonard, was added to provide another bat in the lineup, and be a battery mate behind the plate to the pitching staff.

The other, junior outfielder and pitcher Kevin Dowdell, was brought on to perform in multiple roles.

Now that the Mountaineers are nearing the midway point in the season, it’s a good time to take stock of how these newcomers to the roster are performing.

Trey Braithwaite – Fifth-year RHP

The all-time saves leader at Navy has been a great addition to the WVU pitching staff.

Braithwaite has made 11 appearances on the mound, owns a 1-0 record and sports a team-best 1.50 earned run average. He also has two saves, and has given up just three earned runs in 18 innings of work.

The fifth-year senior put forth a pair of pivotal performances this weekend against No. 12 TCU.

Braithwaite allowed just one run and struck out three batters in two innings of relief in Friday night’s win over the Horned Frogs. Two days later, the former Midshipman dazzled by throwing 3.2 innings of shutout, no-hit baseball out of the bullpen.

Over his last six relief appearances, which have spanned 11.1 innings, Braithwaite has held opposing hitters to three hits, one run, and zero earned runs. He has also struck out 14, picked up his lone win and both of his saves, and has also lowered his ERA by nearly two and a half runs.

For the year, Braithwaite owns an outstanding 0.780 WHIP. He also has limited opposing hitters to just a .133 batting average.

The righty was also named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week on Monday.

Zach Bravo – Fifth-year RHP

Bravo finds himself on the fourth team of his five-year college baseball career. He was even selected in the 29th round of the 2019 MLB Draft.

The Albuquerque, New Mexico, native has been sent to the mound eight times this season for WVU. Half of those appearances have been starts.

Bravo struggled in his first two starts with WVU. In neither start did he make it to the fifth inning, and he surrendered at least three runs in each.

But after going nearly a month between starts, Bravo seems to have settled in.

Over his last two starts, the slender righty tossed six innings of shoutout baseball against Marshall, and then followed it up with five-plus innings of solid work against No. 12 TCU.

Against the Horned Frogs, likely the most-talented lineup that he has faced in his collegiate career, Bravo allowed just one earned run on four hits. He set the table for Braithwaite’s impressive relief appearance.

On the year, Bravo is 3-0 with a 4.13 ERA.

Kevin Dowdell – Junior LHP/OF

The Calhoun Community College product has played sparingly this year for WVU.

Dowdell has made just five appearances on the mound, and has never thrown more than nine pitches in an outing. While his relief appearances have been short-lived, Dowdell has largely done his job. He has allowed just one hit, and has not been responsible for a run scored.

At the dish, Dowdell has logged 12 at bats, but has come up with just two hits. He has, however, drawn four walks and is 3-for-3 on stolen base attempts.

Dayne Leonard – Redshirt junior C/INF

After appearing in 34 games for Virginia Tech last season, Leonard came to the correct side of the Black Diamond Trophy rivalry. He has been a welcomed addition to the Mountaineer lineup.

Leonard came out of the gates hot, recording a hit in each of his first eight games. In fact, following a 2-4 day at the dish against Canisius on March 1, the catcher had a batting average of .476.

His bat has cooled since then, and he was forced to miss a few games due to a hand injury.

However, Leonard still commands a .279 average, which is fifth-best among Mountaineer hitters. He also leads the club with eight hit by pitches, and his .421 on-base percentage is the third-best mark for WVU.

Behind the plate, Leonard has thrown out six potential base stealers. That’s the third-highest total in the Big 12.

Chase Smith – Fifth-year RHP

No Mountaineer pitcher has stepped on the mound more this year than Chase Smith.

He’s tallied 13 relief outings this season. Those 13 appearances have lasted just 10.1 innings. His ERA is just 2.61, as he has allowed just three earned runs.

In fact, three of the four total runs he has allowed this season came in a relief performance against Charlotte in February.

Since then, Smith has made eight appearances, spanning 6.1 innings, and has struck out six while allowing just one run.

The righty has made more than 100 appearances in his collegiate career.