McIntosh, Gonzalez Make Adjustments, See Results At The Plate For WVU
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Despite a start to the season that saw, at one point, six batters in the starting lineup hitting .143 or lower, head coach Randy Mazey remained confident that his team would begin putting the barrel on the ball more consistently. Still, it had to be a bit worrisome, even though his pitching staff was putting together outstanding performances to keep them in games.
Signs of awakenings, while not running throughout the lineup, begin appearing when the Mountaineers returned home from an encouraging West Coast swing at top-five ranked Oregon State. WVU rapped out 25 hits and scored 23 runs in a three-game sweep of Kent State, pushing its record to 9-5 on the season.
One of the players who made a push was Paul McIntosh, who fashioned a 4-7 day in Saturday’s doubleheader, which included a home run and three RBI.
“I just made a couple of minor adjustments to where I stand, trying to see the pitches better,” said McIntosh, who came to WVU after a season at Motlow State Community College, where he hit .331 with 16 home runs and 48 RBI. “It’s something I have done before and played with over the years, but today it really clicked,” he said of his Saturday showing.
Also improving over the weekend was Ivan Gonzalez, who admitted to getting “pull-happy” at the plate earlier in the season. Responding to the calls of his teammates to “stay in the middle of the field,” the catcher\third baseman did just that in the series finale, going 2-2 while scoring three runs. Perhaps more importantly, he was more patient, working two walks and forcing opposing pitchers to either put offerings over the plate or suffer the consequences of another baserunner. That was vital in the Sunday contest, where the Mountaineers needed almost every one of their runs to record a 9-7 win.
“I really focused on that in BP and got back in my groove. We had a rough start, but we are rolling right now,” Gonzalez said. “Everyone is willing to work on new things and new approaches. Our offense kind of got a late start, but once we get both [the hitting and pitching] together, we are going to be an amazing team.”
McIntosh and Gonzalez should provide WVU with a one-two punch behind the plate, with the former stepping in at times to give the latter a rest from labors behind the plate. That played out on Sunday, with McIntosh catching and Gonzalez playing third. Both can also DH, and while McIntosh admitted doing so has been a struggle for him to get used to, it gives Mazey several different options for getting bats in the lineup.
The importance of getting the hitting going while keeping the pitching at a high level is already rearing its head. With just six non-conference games remaining before the start of the loaded Big 12 season, West Virginia must rack up as many wins as it can. That won’t be an easy task, as the Mountaineers have a three-game set at William & Mary this weekend, which holds a Top 20 RPI positioning and is getting votes in top 25 polls.
First, though, comes a two-game swing at Morehead State on Tuesday and Wednesday, where WVU hopes to continue to build on the improvement it showed at home this past weekend. First pitch for both games is scheduled for 3 p.m.