AUSTIN, Texas – The West Virginia University baseball team concludes the regular season at Texas this weekend at Disch-Falk Field.
The series begins on Friday, May 19, at 7:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. CT. Saturday’s contest has been moved up to 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT, due to inclement weather expected in the area, while the series concludes on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT.
The Mountaineers (31-20, 11-10 Big 12) enter the weekend having won four in a row and five of their last six games. WVU closed out its home slate with three consecutive wins, with a two-game, weekend sweep of Gardner-Webb before a 2-0 win against Pitt in the Backyard Brawl on Tuesday. West Virginia is tied for fourth place in the Big 12 with an 11-10 record.
The Longhorns (32-19, 9-11 Big 12) enter the final weekend of the regular season in seventh place in the conference standings, two games behind West Virginia. UT opened the week with a 10-3 win over Incarnate Word after taking the previous week off.
Junior right-hander BJ Myers
(4-2, 3.90 ERA) takes the mound for West Virginia in the opener against fellow righty Nolan Kingham (7-4, 2.90 ERA). On Saturday, freshman righty Alek Manoah
(1-1, 2.70 ERA) faces UT right-hander Morgan Cooper (6-2, 2.27 ERA). In the regular-season finale, righty Kyle Johnston (2-1, 3.24 ERA) will take the mound for the Longhorns, while WVU’s starter has not been determined.
All three games at Texas will be broadcast on the Longhorn Network, with Lowell Galindo, Keith Moreland and Greg Swindell on the call. Fans can listen to the game on the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG on various affiliates throughout the state, online at WVUsports.com, on the Mountaineer Gameday App and the TuneInRadio App. Dan Zangrilli will broadcast the action.
Additional behind-the-scenes updates, news and notes from Austin can be found on social media by following and connecting with the team at @WVUBaseball on Twitter
Texas is 32-19 on the season and is in seventh place in the Big 12 standings with a 9-11 record. UT is 25-7 at home, 7-11 on the road and 0-1 at a neutral site. The Longhorns are 6-9 against ranked opponents.
The Longhorns are coming off a 10-3 win over Incarnate Word on Tuesday night. The win followed an eight-day break for UT after a three-game sweep by No. 6 TCU in Fort Worth, Texas from May 5-7.
Offensively, the Longhorns are led by Kacy Clemens, with a .307 batting average, 54 hits, 38 RBIs and eight home runs. Travis Jones is second with 49 hits, while Bret Boswell’s 27 RBIs ranks second on the team.
On the mound, Nick Kennedy’s eight wins leads the team, while Beau Ridgeway has a 1.96 ERA in 30 relief appearances. Morgan Cooper’s 89 strikeouts is a team-best, while he boasts a 2.27 ERA with 12 starts.
The Longhorns are coached by David Pierce, in his first season in Austin. Pierce, who has reached the NCAA Regionals in all five seasons as a head coach, owns a 229-128 record. He spent three years as the head coach at Sam Houston State before coaching at Tulane the past two years.
SERIES HISTORY VS. THE LONGHORNS
West Virginia is 8-4 all-time against Texas. Following a three-game sweep at home last season, the Mountaineers are 5-1 in Morgantown and 3-3 in Austin. All 12 games have occurred since 2013, when WVU joined the Big 12 Conference and coach Randy Mazey took the helm.
The all-time series began with a series win in Austin in 2013, followed by another win in Morgantown in 2014 in the final series at old Hawley Field.
Texas won its first series in 2015 in Austin. The Longhorns won the opener, 4-3 in 10 innings. Another 10-inning contest followed, a 7-6 WVU win. UT claimed the finale, 5-1.
The Mountaineers swept last season’s series in Morgantown. It was WVU’s third three-game sweep in Big 12 play since joining the conference in 2013.
- In the sweep, WVU outscored UT 34-14 and out-hit them 38-22. WVU posted a .369 batting average to UT’s .218. West Virginia’s bullpen held Texas to one run on four hits in 9.1 innings, while WVU scored 14 runs off the UT bullpen in 13 innings.
- In an 11-2 win to open the series, every WVU batter recorded a hit in the opener as the Mountaineers benefited from a strong start by Chad Donato. West Virginia’s offense recorded 15 hits and scored four runs in the third inning and three in both the seventh and eighth. Donato held UT to two runs on five hits in 7.0 innings while striking out two.
- WVU scored in all but one inning to outlast Texas 14-7 in the second game. West Virginia scored 14 runs on 13 hits as seven Mountaineers had at least one hit, six had one or more RBIs and eight scored at least one run. The offensive onslaught was headlined by four players with both multiple hits and RBIs. Kyle Davis and Kyle Gray had three hits and two RBIs, while Darius Hill had two hits and three RBIs and Ivan Gonzalez had two hits and drove in two runs. The WVU bullpen held UT to just one run on two hits in the final four innings.
- WVU completed the sweep with a 9-5 victory on Sunday. For the second consecutive day, WVU jumped out to an early lead with three runs in the first and four in the second to take a 7-1 lead. Just like Saturday, the Longhorns fought back with three runs in the third and one in the fourth to get to within two at 7-5. West Virginia would not allow the visitors to get any closer though, as starter Conner Dotson threw a scoreless fifth and sixth innings before the bullpen took care of the rest.
ON DECK: BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
Postseason play begins for the Mountaineers next week at the Big 12 Championship. The conference tournament commences with four games on Wednesday, May 24. The championship schedule and bracket will be released on Sunday afternoon, following WVU’s game at Texas.
LAST TIME OUT: TWO-GAME WEEKEND SWEEP
In the 194th edition of the Backyard Brawl, West Virginia shut out Pitt, 2-0, in the final home game of the regular season at Monongalia County Ballpark.
- In front of 2,815 fans, the eighth-largest home crowd in program history and second-largest mid-week crowd, the Mountaineers improved to 106-88 all-time against the Panthers. WVU has won three in a row and nine of the last 13 meetings in the all-time series. The sweep of the season series is the first by either team since West Virginia won both games in 2014.
- West Virginia recorded its second shutout of the season, thanks to freshman starter Isaiah Kearns’ 5.2 innings and senior Jackson Sigman’s 3.1 no-hit innings.
- Kearns, making his sixth career start, allowed just three hits with a career-high-tying seven strikeouts in 5.2 innings. He walked three and did not allow a runner to advance past second base. Sigman followed with the final 3.1 innings. The senior did not allow a baserunner, struck out three and earned his fourth win of the season.
- At the plate, two runs in the sixth inning was all the Mountaineers needed. The inning began with a walk by designated hitter Braden Zarbnisky. Left fielder Kyle Davis followed with an RBI triple to the wall in left-center, scoring Zarbnisky to give the Mountaineers a 1-0 lead. Right fielder Darius Hill then singled home Davis for the game’s final run.
RECORD ATTENDANCE IN 2017
The Mountaineers have played in front of record-breaking crowds throughout the 2017 season at Monongalia County Ballpark. A total of 40,616 fans, for an average of 1,846 per game, filled the stands in 2017, both program records. Additionally, 3,415 saw the Mountaineers face No. 3 TCU on April 15, the largest home crowd in team history.
- The total season attendance of 40,616 broke last year’s record of 40,390, despite WVU playing 22 home games compared to 30 in 2016.
- WVU averaged 1,846 fans per game, breaking the record of 1,507 set in 2015, the inaugural season of Monongalia County Ballpark.
- Four single-game crowds rank in the top 10 all-time, highlighted by a record crowd of 3,415 that watched the Mountaineers host No. 3 TCU on April 15. That broke the previous record of 3,279, set against Oklahoma in 2013 in Charleston, West Virginia, in WVU’s first season in the Big 12.
- Since joining the Big 12 Conference in 2013, and the opening of Monongalia County Ballpark in 2015, attendance has gone up each season.
QUICK HITS: KEY TEAM NOTES
- West Virginia is celebrating its 125th year of baseball. Founded in 1892, WVU owns an all-time record of 2,126-1,522-19. The Mountaineers are the second-oldest program in the Big 12.
- West Virginia is ranked No. 19 in the NCAA RPI. The Big 12 has six teams in the top 25 and the league has the No. 1 RPI in the nation.
- WVU is 31-20 on the season, 14-8 at home, 14-12 on the road and 3-0 at a neutral site.
- WVU is tied for fourth place in the Big 12, with an 11-10 record, and won its first four weekend series in conference play. West Virginia is one game behind third-place Oklahoma and two games behind second-place Texas Tech.
- The Mountaineers are 9-6 against top-25 teams, with all but six games coming on the road.
- Kyle Davis has reached base in a team-high 21 consecutive games, a stretch that included a team-best 12-game hitting streak.
- Sophomore designated hitter/right-handed pitcher Braden Zarbnisky has been named a semifinalist on the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year award watch list, presented by the College Baseball Foundation. Zarbnisky is hitting .342 in 34 games with 17 starts and has a team-leading five wins and five saves while posting a 2.64 ERA in 20 relief appearances.
- Senior Jackson Cramer has been named one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award. The award recognizes senior student-athletes who have shown a commitment in four areas: community, classroom, character and competition. Fans can vote for Cramer at seniorCLASSaward.com.
- Senior right-handed reliever Jackson Sigman has made 31 appearances this year, the most in a single season in program history.