MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — BJ Myers reflects on his last two Big 12 starts, sees the shimmering numbers and figures he found his formula for success.
West Virginia’s Friday night starter threw 8 1/3 innings of six-hit ball against TCU, which followed a complete-game five-hitter over Kansas. His totals in those back-to-back outings — a 1.56 ERA with 16 strikeouts and only two walks — reveal a comfortable, confident pitcher in his prime.
“I’ve found my routine and really stuck to it,” he said.
Myers (3-2, 3.38) will aim to continue his effectiveness when the No. 21 Mountaineers visit Kansas State this weekend.
West Virginia is 22-13 overall and tied for second in the Big 12 at 8-4, having won four straight league series. At No. 8 in the RPI, the Mountaineers are vying to host one of 16 NCAA regionals scheduled for June 2-5. In fact, Friday starts the bidding process for schools with a shot at cracking the top 16, and WVU plans to submit a proposal for Mon County Ballpark.
Kansas State is 19-18 overall, 2-10 in the conference and feature the conference’s worst ERA though that’s not the fault of ace Justin Heskett (4-2, 2.88). He’ll draw the Game 1 assignment opposite Myers, the Big 12’s reining pitcher of the week.
While throwing 126 pitches vs. TCU and 125 against Kansas, Myers has shown the ability to carry his stuff deep into games.
“He’s working his tail off,” West Virginia catcher Ivan Gonzalez said. “Even when he’s throwing bullpens, he’s focused on every pitch.”
Coach Randy Mazey demands West Virginia stay focused this weekend, warning “we’ve got a big trap staring us right in the face” against the last-place Wildcats.
After taking two of the three from then-No. 3 TCU, the Mountaineers surfaced in the national polls for the first time since 1982. A day later they defeated Marshall 8-4, giving Mazey faith his players are handling their success with maturity.
“We’re 1-0 since (the rankings) came out,” he said. “That’s the biggest fear, because the power of the distraction these days is immeasurable. With all the text messages and emails I’m sure that our guys are getting, and reading about themselves on social media, your biggest fear is it’s going to distract you to the point you think you’re better than you are.”
Kansas State coach Brad Hill isn’t surprised to see the Mountaineers in the title race, saying he projected them as his preseason dark horse team.
“They compete really hard,” he said, “and on their pitching staff they have a guy or two who can go eight innings and give you a chance to win.”