MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — He’s been one of the biggest surprises in the Big 12 this season, and he continues to produce in important moments.
During a nonconference series against Central Michigan in March, WVU freshman shortstop Mikey Kluska introduced himself to Mountaineer fans by slugging a walk-off homer to clinch an 8-7 victory in 10 innings in the second game of a doubleheader.
Kluska was the hero once again for the Mountaineers Saturday when he drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth in a 6-5 victory over Texas Tech.
It’s already clear to skipper Randy Mazey that Kluska is a clutch performer.
“Some guys, over time, get an identity as to what kind of player they are. He has an identity, but it hasn’t taken much time,” Mazey said after Kluska’s most recent game-winning RBI. “He’s a true freshman that’s come in here and never been rattled by a situation, and continues to do what he continues to do.”
With veteran shortstop Tevin Tucker out for the year with an injury, Kluska was thrust into the starting lineup at the beginning of the season. What has transpired since has admittedly exceeded his expectations: through 30 games, the native of White Sulphur Springs leads the Mountaineers in hits and RBIs. He’s also the only player to start and appear in every contest.
“I knew what I could do and everything. I just wanted my opportunity, and I got it, unfortunate to Tevin, but this has been a blast,” Kluska said in a recent interview for the WVU Coaches Show. “I’m just trying to help our team win any way I can and just have fun out there.”
With 35 hits and a .292 batting average, Kluska might make things look easy at times, but he also admits his first season at the Division I level has been filled with adjustments.
“It’s definitely pretty different. It’s just like the pace of play. Obviously, there’s a lot more energy, fans in the stands,” Kluska said. “You could say, I guess, it’s more pressure, but honestly, when you’re out there, none of that really matters. It’s just baseball. Just a lot of fun.”
And it’s easy to have fun playing at your “dream” school while representing your home state.
“My first time I came here for a camp, I fell in love with it right away,” Kluska said. “I committed here as a sophomore, so pretty early. As soon as I set foot here and met the coaches, saw how important this school was to this state, it was definitely a dream to play here.”
Kluska and the Mountaineers return to action Friday when they begin a three-game series at Kansas State.
Watch Kluska’s interview from the latest edition of the WVU Coaches Show at the top of this page.