MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Even in the throes of a four-game losing streak, with his team facing a road series at what has become the Big 12′s toughest venue this season, West Virginia coach Randy Mazey hardly sounded anxious.
“If we had told our guys that going into the last week of the season our RPI would be in the top 30 and we’d be fighting for an (NCAA) at-large bid, I think everyone of us would have taken that,” Mazey said.
Still on the good side of the NCAA bubble, but with their margin for error shrinking, the Mountaineers (27-21, 9-11) close the regular season with a three-game series at Texas Tech (37-16, 11-10). Thursday’s opener begins at 7:30 p.m. from Dan Law Field in Lubbock, where the Red Raiders are 28-4 this season, easily the league’s best home record.
“It’s a really hard place to win,” conceded Mazey, whose team stands 2-7 in Big 12 road games after being swept at Kansas last weekend.
That was followed by Tuesday’s loss at Maryland, which left the Mountaineers toiling despite a No. 28 RPI.
“Losing four straight hurt, but the RPI is still strong,” said Aaron Fitt of Baseball America, who currently projects WVU as the sixth and final Big 12 team in the NCAA field of 64. “There’s no reason for panic—unless West Virginia gets swept at Texas Tech. Then the Mountaineers could be in some trouble, and would need a deep run in the Big 12 tournament.”
In his weekly Stock Report released Wednesday, Fitt wrote of West Virginia’s postseason chances:
“If it can win at least one game in Lubbock to finish 10-13 or 11-12 in the league, it should be OK. Getting swept for the second straight weekend would be disastrous, but we don’t expect that to happen.”
In another projection, Kendall Rogers of PerfectGame.com forecasts the Mountaineers as a No. 3 seed in the four-team Tallahassee Regional.
Texas Tech, after winning 11 consecutive in its home park, owns a No. 14 RPI and appears in three of the four national polls—ranked No. 23 by the USA Today coaches, No. 23 by the NCBWA and No. 27 by Collegiate Baseball. The Red Raiders are shoo-ins to make the NCAAs for the first time since 2004.
Harrison Musgrave (5-3, 2.23 ERA) will once again be the Game 1 starter for West Virginia, slated to face right-hander Corey Taylor (5-2, 1.88). Both aces figure to be tested by lineups that rank No. 1 and No. 2 in Big 12 batting.
West Virginia leads the conference with a .294 team average, highlighted by league leader Bobby Boyd at .374 and Billy Fleming at .371. Ryan McBroom ranks fifth at .344 and second with 46 RBIs.
“We’re a pretty good offensive team,” Mazey said. “We’ve got older kids in our lineup who are very mature hitters. We can score runs at anytime in our lineup.”