Unconventional Mazey Uses Two Starters To Stifle Terps
By Kevin Kinder
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – WVU head coach Randy Mazey is nothing if not unconventional. Most times, though, his moves pan out. Such was the case in West Virginia’s 9-1 win over Maryland on Friday in the first game of the Winston-Salem Region of the NCAA baseball tournament. Passing on normal Friday starter BJ Myers, Mazey instead selected Alek Manoah, who had started against the Terps back in April.
Manoah wasn’t able to match his performance in that game, but his bulldog tenacity helped spark his teammates to the win.
“He’ll give the team a free base, but I think the team responds to his competitiveness,” Mazey said in analyzing the decision to start the freshman. “I think the team piggybacks on how hard he is trying. I think our team responds to that.”
The start of Manoah wasn’t the biggest surprise, though. When he faltered in the fourth inning, it was Myers who came on in relief. That choice panned out brilliantly, as Myers allowed just four hits and no runs over the final 5.2 innings. With 45 strikes in 77 pitches, Myers kept Maryland in check while the offense smoked six balls over the fence.
The decision to bring Myers on in relief was mostly a function of the spot in the game.
“If Alek had gotten us six innings we would have flipped it to [Jackson] Sigman and [Braden] Zarbnisky and those guys If it was going to happen early it was going to be BJ. The first game of the tournament you don’t need to throw a lot of guys. We knew that if BJ was throwing good he could run the game for us and that’s what he did.”
That sentiment was also part of the reason that Mazey left Myers in for 77 pitches, which might affect when he can be used again over the weekend. The safe play, though, was to go with the guy that was dominating the game, and that let WVU cruise home. True, both of its weekend starters are now on the shelf for a couple of days, perhaps, but the win is safely in the back pocket, and the bullpen is well-rested.
“In a park like this, it can neutralize a lot of things,” Mazey said. ‘You can be up 7-1 or 8-1 and you can’t feel all that great about it. You just have to keep your foot on the gas the whole time.”
It was hammer down time for the Mountaineers both at the plate and on the mound, and there’s not much to argue with in that regard.