Heartbreaking defeat an all-too familiar tale for West Virginia fans

COMMENTARY

GRANVILLE, W.Va. — Gut punch. All-timer.

You could discuss where West Virginia’s 11-10 loss on Sunday against Texas A&M ranks among the WVU athletics’ long history of setting their fans up with hope only to pull the rug out faster than Bryce Blaum’s walk-off grand slam left Monongalia County Ballpark.

That would be a one painful discussion, though, one that generations of West Virginians are quite tired of.
But one that has been had enough times that Mountaineers fans have become more accustomed to expecting heartbreak than preparing for celebration.

13-9. That football score tells a story of misery that doesn’t need to be accompanied by the details of a box score, because WVU fans remember that crushing loss to Pitt like it happened five minutes ago and they will never forget it.

We remember Major Harris’s busted shoulder on the third play of the 1989 national championship loss against Notre Dame — and the hopes, dreams and prayers that were dashed because of it — more than we’ll probably ever remember his electrifying athletic feats in the other 11 games that season.

Da’Sean Butler had one of the greatest basketball careers a WVU men’s basketball player not named Jerry West has ever had, but we think more about Butler blowing out his knee and writhing in pain in the 2010 Final Four loss against Duke than we ever do about his fantastic accomplishments.

All of this pain and suffering is not to be thrown at the feet of West Virginia baseball coach Randy Mazey on this day, despite whether or not you agree with how he handled his pitching staff against the Aggies.

Mazey is certainly not the reason WVU athletics seems destined to always be the bridesmaid who will never find Mr. Right.

“What If I’m speechless?” Mazey said in the postgame press conference. “It’s hard to make an opening statement when you’re speechless.”

For the first 14 minutes of the Aggies’ portion of the ninth inning, WVU fans were anything but.

The problem? Once Texas A&M’s Logan Foster led off with a double and Aaron Walters and Braden Shewmake walked, all of the talk from WVU faithful went something like this: “Here we go again.”

In the 15th minute, WVU fans, like Mazey, were speechless as well, having just taken yet another haymaker directly to the chin.

“I think that’s their leading home run hitter,” West Virginia outfielder Darius Hill said of Blaum’s blast. “He got a good pitch to hit and did what you’re supposed to do on those balls. It was good for him, bad for us.”

What Mazey has done in building up this WVU baseball program is more than commendable. It is truly a minor miracle, to be quite honest.

“This program will never be the same,” was the way Hill put it. “It’s no longer a school that everyone can say, ‘We’re going to beat West Virginia this weekend.’ ”

All of it true. None of it remembered this day.

Agony speaks louder. It sticks out like a stain on your favorite shirt. It hurts way more than the big wins bring joy.
Before the day even began, it was hard not to associate WVU athletics with heartbreak. Unfortunately that story continues to be written.

Maybe one day it will change. Maybe the star pitcher will one day come up big in the most important game of the year or the star quarterback will stay healthy and have the game of his life.

That thought of hope is what keeps WVU fans going and they are to be applauded for their blind faith and their ability to continually pick themselves up and dust themselves off.

But what happened Sunday was a complete gut punch. Doesn’t matter where it ranks. They all hurt the same.





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