Allan Taylor/MetroNews photo

Before the Mother’s Day series finale against TCU, moms of WVU players took the field for a ceremonial first pitch.

COMMENTARY

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Mother’s Day massacre TCU inflicted upon West Virginia was mere minutes old when Randy Mazey began applying spin control to the 16-6 loss.

“Who would’ve ever thought that with one weekend left in the season that we’d still have an opportunity to win the Big 12?” said WVU’s baseball coach.

Not since BP dramatized pristine beaches after the Gulf oil spill had someone pinned such a merry message to a ruinous event. Yet Mazey’s rosy outlook couldn’t be dampened by a one-day disaster — not even one that involved the Big 12′s worst-hitting team treating WVU’s pitchers like another form of BP (batting practice).

TCU, which had not scored more than eight runs in a conference game, doubled that output Sunday. The 16 runs were more than TCU had scored in eight series this season. And after homering precisely once during their first 20 league games, the Horned Frogs bashed two out of Appalachian Power Park within a matter of 58 minutes.

“They were stroking,” said West Virginia starter John Means (4-3), who was handed a three-run lead in the first inning only to hand it back by the third.

“They were even hitting balls out of the zone,” said Means, who left in the fifth trailing 6-4. “I mean, I was leaving some balls up, but there was definitely some good hitting too.”

Much better hitting than TCU’s .246 team batting average suggested coming in. The purple pounders went 18-of-43 (.418) on getaway day in Charleston. Heck, TCU’s No. 9 hitter Kyle Bacak batted 4-for-6, shell-shocking a crowd of 1,820 fans who hoped WVU would win its fourth consecutive Big 12 series.

Instead, West Virginia fell two games behind Big 12 frontrunner Kansas State and leaked some of the momentum that brought it to the postseason bubble. After beginning the weekend with a 2-0 victory, the Mountaineers wound up dropping two of the three to a TCU squad that stood 107th in the RPI.

WVU’s path to an NCAA at-large bid is now harder to see than the numbers on those camouflage jerseys. But here’s an estimate of what is needed: Take two out of three next week at Oklahoma State and win at least three games at the Big 12 tournament.

As a precursor to those tall tasks, WVU must visit Beckley on Tuesday night in order to meet Marshall, a rivalry game that looms as more obstacle than opportunity. (The Herd sits No. 222 in the RPI, offering no boost in schedule strength and creating a logistical pain with WVU slated to board a Pittsburgh flight bound for Stillwater the next morning at 7 a.m.)

“Our travel schedule over the next three days is going to be as bad as it’s been the entire season,” Mazey said, “but we’re going to flip that into a positive.”

There’s the spin doctor again, distilling each piece of adversity into a blessing. Picked for the bottom of the Big 12? (Much obliged!) Positioned as the northern-most school in a southern league? (Spectacular!) Forced to play your home games two hours from campus at a park where the PA guy mispronounces Mazey as “MY-zee”? (Tip of the cap!)

Regardless how you say his last name, just know you’ll soon be seeing it attached to the Big 12 Coach of the Year award. That’s a tribute to drastic overachievement, whereby Mazey has taken the least talented roster in the conference and convinced it to put emphatic cleat marks through preseason projections.

He emphasized this back in January, taking the team on an unannounced 12-mile hike along the rail trail that resulted in sore calves, blisters and proof that the key to finishing is focusing. Now there’s one more mile to travel in the regular season, one more game against a rival eager to play spoiler, one more crucial road series against another Big 12 team on the NCAA bubble.

Said WVU’s head coach and hiking guide: “These next 10 days for Mountaineer baseball are going to be pretty important.”

And that’s the recipe for forgetting a truly rotten Sunday.

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Comments

  • luke

    18 hits, 8 walks, 1 hit batsman, plus don't catch a couple of balls in the outfield equals a disaster. That against a team that has had difficulty scoring runs. The weekend performance won't cut it in any league. Maybe they are tired, but now the guy who has carried them on the mound has got to go twice on short rest. It doesn't look good. They need to win the series against OSU and a couple of games in the tournament to have a chance for the post season in a year when the Big XII is down.

  • Doug

    Chef Camille, you're an absolute FRIGGIN IDIOT!!! Obviously you know nothing about baseball and probably nothing about anything else. So why don't you get back in the kitchen and cook some type of disgusting mess which is befitting a jerk such as yourself!!!!!!

  • wvman75

    The season is far from over. Really proud of this team.

  • cutty77

    WVU Baseball will be fine. They have exceeded everybody,and i do mean everybodys expections this year. As usual The Bandwagon is Starting to Unload. The Front Runners have left the building. Those people that Belong to The Church of WHATS HAPPENING NOW. LOL

  • hailey

    Chef..wrong, the bus has not left the gargage, there is a lttile thing called the B12 Tourney, maybe you should go DQ , does DQ = Dairy Queen or = Drama Queen ?

  • Chef Camille

    Gee complaining about the travel schedule. Let's see join a conference that is mid- west centric and play all over the state for your home games. I think the bus just left the garage with any hopes for an NCAA appearance, but maybe after the Marshall game they could all go to Dairy Queen.