New Bat, Contacts For Brophy, Patience For Inman Precede Big Blasts in WVU Win Over VT
BLACKSBURG, Va. — Maybe Kevin Brophy needs a new bat every time he comes to the plate. Or more regular visits to the opthamologist.
As he was taking his final cut in batting practice before West Virginia’s 7-2 win over Virginia Tech on Wednesday night, his Easton stick unexpectedly split. That came on the heels of a recent visit to the eye doctor, who made a significant change to his prescrption after an exam.
“I have felt really comfortable the past couple of weeks after struggling for a long time,” said Brophy. “I had a meeting with (WVU coach Randy) Mazey when I was struggling, and he asked me if my eyes were good. I went and checked, and they were actually twice as bad [as they had been]. They changed (my prescription) and ever since I’ve been seeing the ball good.”
That correction paid dividends, including his home run against TCU last Sunday, but then he got another setback on Wednesday in the form of his bat breaking. He got a new one for his first plate appearance against Virginia Tech, and saw (pun intended) no ill effects. Going the other way, he rocketed a ball over the left field wall to give the Mountaineers an early 2-0 lead.
“My last swing of my last round (of batting practice), my bat broke,” he said ruefully. “Thankfully our equipment guy had a new one for me, and my first swing with it I hit the home run. I joked that I had to have a new bat every time I hit.”
Breaking bats isn’t a new experience for Brophy. He counts four among his casualties this year, including one that he cracked on a home run swing against Oregon State.
“If they’re going out, then I don’t care,” he said with good humor.
Meanwhile, Marques Inman had to be a bit more patient to get his big hit. A pair of outs and a walk in his first three plate appearances had him looking for a bigger contribution when he came up for his final at bat, which was sparked by a good defensive play. With the bases loaded and one out in the seventh, Inman snagged a grounder at first and threw immediately to the plate for a force out. That allowed WVU reliever Zach Reid to escape the inning with a fly out, and limited the Hokies to just one run in the frame.
“Coach Mazey always reiterates what to do before we get the ball, so I was thinking that from the get-go,” he said of his decision to get the force.
Inman came to the plate with runners at the corners and none out in the eighth, and had good situational hitting in mind. With WVU’s lead cut to 4-2, his primary goal was to hit the ball into the outfield, which would allow Brandon White, who was on third, to get home either via a hit or a sacrifice fly. Instead, he blew the game open.
“I was just trying to get on time with a fastball and hit something to the outfield, and it just happened to go over the fence,” he said.
Of course, it didn’t “just happen.” Inman has hit the ball well for most of the season, and has compiled an OPS of .875. With the home runs, he and Brophy both moved into a tie with Paul McIntosh for the team lead with eight. If they can keep producing in such a manner, West Virginia has a chance to advance far in the postseason.
“We have good pitching and good pitching, and if we can keep getting that too, we’ll be fine,” said Inman, who always looks to credit others on the team.
“We’re just trying to keep our head down and keep our foot on the gas and keep going,” Brophy summed up.