MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Hurricane baseball program has produced another Division 1 prospect. Rising junior third baseman and pitcher Joel Gardner has given a verbal commitment to West Virginia University.

“It is awesome because I have always wanted to play for my home state,” Gardner said. “I have always wanted to be a Mountaineer.”

Gardner received the scholarship offer from the Mountaineers in April.

“It has always been a goal of mine to be a Division 1 player, especially at West Virginia. I knew this year once I started getting better and started hitting the ball harder that it could be possible.”

Gardner burst onto the scene with an impressive sophomore season. After earning some varsity playing time as a freshman, he hit .467 this spring with six home runs and 50 RBI. Gardner went 8-1 on the mound with an ERA of 1.48. He struck out 67 batters in 51 innings and earned Class AAA first team all-state honors.

Gardner is one of four players on this year’s Hurricane roster to take his game to the Division 1 level. Jonathan Blackwell has signed with Coastal Carolina. Rising seniors Tyler Cox and Austin Dearing have verbally committed to Marshall University.

“They have pushed me to get better. I can always ask them to go to the field and work out and they will be there. They’ll always hit with me and take some ground balls when I need it.”

The Redskins went 33-6 and finished as Class AAA state runner-up to Saint Albans. Hurricane should contend for the state championship once again in 2020.

“We are set up well. We have some guys that are going to step up next year and we have some guys that are going to get better and better everyday.”