Things are starting to look up for West Virginia baseball after they broke a tough skid with a dominating win over No. 17 Pitt on Wednesday — just enough to get some confidence back ahead of its weekend date with Oklahoma in Morgantown.
The Mountaineers (16-21, 6-12 Big 12) return to Big 12 play against the Sooners (22-21, 6-9 Big 12) after a 15-hit performance against the Panthers, just the showing they needed to get their groove back.
“When you get guys out there getting two, three hits in a night, they go to bed feeling good about themselves, and they’ll come to practice tomorrow feeling good about themselves,” said WVU skipper Randy Mazey. “Confidence is a tricky thing, man. It’s easy to have confidence when things are going well, but when they’re not going well, you’ve gotta talk yourself into being confident even when you don’t have any reason to.”
Well, the Mountaineers might have found that reason in that victory — a total of six WVU batters had a multi-hit game on Wednesday, led by catcher Paul McIntosh, who went 3-for-4 with a towering homer that bounced off the scoreboard.
The three-game series against the Sooners is an opportunity to get momentum swinging in the right direction through May. Oklahoma has the highest combined ERA in the Big 12 (5.46) and have allowed a conference-high 52 home runs.
Of course, West Virginia’s pitching struggles have been well-documented this season, as well. They are right behind the Sooners in terms of ERA (5.39) and have had some struggles in the bullpen, especially later in series.
Jackson Wolf (3-5, 3.69 ERA) will look to get the Mountaineers off to a good start this weekend as he takes the rubber on Friday. The lefty preseason All-American is looking to recoup from his performance on WVU’s last Friday matchup against TCU, in which he gave up four earned runs on six hits in 6.0 innings.
He’ll likely face Wyatt Olds (3-4, 5.33 ERA), a sophomore righty and the typical Friday starter for the Sooners. He earned a victory in his last start against Oklahoma State, throwing 105 pitches in 5.0 innings, allowing just one hit. Two days later, he came in for an inning of relief, throwing 13 pitches in the series finale.
West Virginia currently sits eighth in the conference with Oklahoma and Kansas State just in front, so the outcome of this series could shake up the Big 12 standings. In fact, if the Mountaineers get some outside help, they could be ostensibly sitting in the 5-seed by weekend’s end if they win the series.
“This is a make-or-break type deal. If we win the series, we’ve got a shot to make a run at it, and if we don’t win the series, we’re fighting a real uphill battle,” Mazey said. “So I told the guys after practice [on Tuesday] that I’ve got a really good feeling about the Pitt game, and I’ve got a really good feeling about the Oklahoma series, and that was a great start [on Wednesday night] because that’s probably one of the better games we’ve played this year…and I think if we start piling those types of games on top of each other, we’ve got a chance to make a run at this thing.”
Game one of the series gets started Friday at 6:30 p.m. Games two and three are set to take place on Saturday and Sunday, at 4:30 p.m. and 11:30 a.m. respectively. All three contests will be shown on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.