Tough Breaks Highlight WVU Series Loss

Tough Breaks, Cruel Fortune Highlight WVU Series Loss

Baseball can be the cruelest of all games.

True, in many ways it has produced our greatest heroes, for its greatest moments come as lightning bolts out of the sky.

Bobby Thomson hits a home run so dramatic win a pennant that is dubbed “The Shot Heard Round The World.”

Carlton Fisk hit a midnight home run to win perhaps the greatest World Series game ever. Kirk Gibson dragged an injured leg to the plate and somehow managed to end a World Series game with one swing of the bat, limping around the bases as if he were 70 years old.

But for each such moment there is a pitcher, who served up the pitch, who had to live it forever, be it Ralph Branca, Pat Darcy or Dennis Eckersley.

Because of the nature of the game, you either fly high or crash.

Ask Bill Buckner, who let Mookie Wilson’s ground ball dribble through his legs to cost the Boston Red Sox a World Series. Think of Fred Merkle, who even more than 100 years later still has pinned to him the term “Merkle’s Boner” for failing to touch second base on what should have been a World Series winning hit.

It happens. If you play the game, you feel the pain. Doesn’t matter if you are the greatest of players or simply a reserve, if fortune chooses to turn its back on you, there is little you can do about.

The game is built that way. Pete Rose used to brag that he had more hits than anybody ever in the history of baseball, but he never hesitated to let you know how tough that was to accomplish by reminding anyone who listened that he also made more outs.

All of this becomes a matter of interest and importance today because WVU catcher Chase Illig has to understand that sometimes in the game of baseball bad things happen to good people and on a windy, dreary Sunday his deluge came before the rain in a 6-4 loss to Oklahoma State.

The two deciding runs came in the most improbable of fashions and, perhaps, the cruelest, because they came on consecutive passed balls charged to Illig as he failed to catch Jackson Wolf’s nasty sinkers.

“Jackson Wolf can really sink his fastball and he was doing it,” WVU manager Randy Mazey said, understanding the pain that Illig had to be suffering. “It was just one of those things where I don’t think there was any cross up or anything. We just didn’t catch the ball.”

The shame of it all was that WVU had played a marvelous game. Defensively, Brandon White made another SportsCenter Top 10 caliber diving catch in center field, his body laid out across turf to save the day.

And shortstop Jimmy Galusky provided some infield magic diving on his belly to turn what seemed to be a sure base hit into a 6-4-3 double play that Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance would have been proud of.

What’s more, WVU players continued to swing their bats with authority.

“We’re on a pretty good roll offensively,” Mazey noted. “I think we had double-digit hits in all three of the games. So, we’re swinging it pretty well right now. When we score four, we need to hold them to three. That’s what we haven’t been doing.”

WVU cranked out 35 hits to 26 for Oklahoma State over the weekend, but came up on the wrong end of the score twice in three games.

The nice thing about baseball, though, is there’s almost always another game around the corner and if you had a bad day, you can come back and make amends.

Mazey knows that and is eager to get them all back out there.

“The guys are out there competing pretty well. I think the toughest part of our schedule is over; we’ve played three out of the top-four teams in the league now, so hopefully we have an opportunity to get on a roll and make some noise here coming down the stretch,” he said.

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