Galusky, White Impressive On ‘D’ For WVU

Galusky, White Impressive On ‘D’ For WVU

By Bob Hertzel

On the surface, when one looked at the problems West Virginia shortstop Jimmy Galusky has had at the plate recently, one might wonder just what he was still doing in the lineup.

He had managed an Andrew McCutchen-like four hits in his last 39 at bats, which figures out to a .103 average.

Playing on a team that is as offensive-minded as WVU, that is third in the Big 12 Conference in batting average for the season, it would seem to be a heavy weight to carry into the Big 12 Baseball Championships that opened Wednesday in Oklahoma City.

Yet there was Galusky in the lineup, and there could be no greater compliment to his defensive abilities than that.

Playing at WVU means the world to Galusky. He’s a product of Preston High and pointed his entire career toward playing with the Mountaineers.

“I’ve been working pretty much my whole life to run out there as a shortstop for the Mountaineers,” Galusky said in the middle of his freshman season.

“Being able to do it was a surreal moment. It was awesome.”

But doing it is one thing, getting appreciated it for it is another.

Too often in our world of sports, which has become so cipher conscious, the only thing that matters is offense … how many triple-doubles does Russell Westbrook have, how many home runs has Mike Trout hit, how many yards did Tom Brady throw for?

Yet Randy Mazey understands in baseball that you get strong pitching, back it with good defense, and you don’t place such a heavy burden upon your offense.

Yes, he has a team that can mash with the best of college baseball … but he isn’t giving up on Galusky and his glove at shortstop, just as he made certain that he would have his freshman Brandon White patrolling centerfield, almost no matter what he would hit.

Sometimes it tests you, as it did with Galusky this past month, until he came alive on Wednesday in the opening 11-1 victory over Baylor, collecting three singles in four at bats and driving in two runs.

This is how Mazey looked at the situation.

“Jimmy’s a guy, in both his years, he started out like a house on fire. His is just a matter of strength and size and fatigue and duration,” he said. “The fact we were able to rest him a couple of times down the stretch has allowed him to hit the reset button and get rejuvenated and refreshed.”

Sure enough, coming to the Brickyard here ignited his confidence, thinking back to last year’s tournament.

“He has a lot of confidence on this field. We definitely need offense out of Jimmy while we’re here,” Mazey said.

The defense, he doesn’t worry about. No matter how bad Galusky goes on offense, the defense remains the same.

“He takes a lot of pride in his defense,” Mazey said. “You can tell that if you ever come to practice. He works as much at it as anybody. He’s out there early and stays late taking ground balls, working on different angles and different throws. That’s why he’s so good because he takes so much pride in it.”

It is the same as White in centerfield, who has been surprisingly good at the plate with a .285 average, but who has caught everything but a cold in centerfield.

“It’s been amazing,” Mazey allowed. “When the ball goes up in the air, you find yourself guilty of thinking that the guy’s going to be out, you know. I know that, the coaches know that, the dugout knows that, the pitcher who gave up it up knows it.

“You can’t put into words how good that guy’s defense has been for us. I think he is the best centerfielder in all the Big 12,” Mazey allowed. “All we asked him to do was just hit a little bit. You know, if you are going to hit just a little bit, you are going to play, because you are so good defensively. I think he wound up hitting .280, more than just a little bit. He was a pleasant surprise.”