Austin Davis’ Speed Shines For WVU In Home Win
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — “You’re going to be seeing a lot of that cat in the future.”
So said West Virginia head coach Randy Mazey, who smiled a bit like the Cheshire Cat as he thought of the ways in which freshman Austin Davis might help his team this year. On a squad with several promising first-year players who could contribute heavily, Davis has had one of the bigger impacts. He’s 2-for-5 on the season with two runs scored and a pair of walks, but one thing that really stands out is his speed.
Against Canisius on Tuesday, he reached base on a walk and a single, and both times proceeded to steal both second and third base. The latter, occurring in the eighth inning, produced a go-ahead run when he scooted home easily on Brandon White’s sacrifice bunt.
WVU records aren’t readily available for multiple-steal innings by the same player, but pulling off thefts twice in an inning two times in the same game might be some sort of mark. He fell just one short of WVU’s individual steals record in a single game, which has stood since future Major Leaguer Babe Barna swiped five in 1937.
“On a cold day, when you think the team might be a little slow responding, one way to get them out of a funk is to start running,” said Mazey, whose aggressive style has a perfect outlet in Davis’ running ability. “You can stay warm when you are running.”
The Orlando, Fla., native did just that, while admitting it was the coldest baseball game he has ever played in (the temperature at first pitch was 32 degrees). He also helped WVU get out of a dicey situation in the ninth, when the Golden Griffins had a runner on second with two outs after tying the game at 4-4. Making a long run from an unfamiliar position in left field, Davis snared a tricky foul fly to get the Mountaineers off the field and back to the plate, where they scored to secure the walk-off win.
“He made a great catch in left field. He hadn’t had one hit to him the whole game and then he gets a tough one,” Mazey said. “He’s an infielder, playing the outfield. He’s a good all-around player.”
“I taking advantage of the opportunity they give me,” said Davis, who was geared up to the maximum against the cold. “It they give me the opportunity to steal the base, I’m going to take that base every time. It’s our approach.”
It’s one that will continue, as WVU might have more speed in its lineup this year than ever before. Returnees such as Brandon White, Tyler Doanes and T.J. Lake are all threats to run, and Davis, along with fellow newcomers such as Tevin Tucker, can all motor.
“He can really change the game with his speed,” Mazey summed up after Davis did just that against Canisius.