WVU Pitching Collapses In Loss to Coastal Carolina
CONWAY, S.C. — West Virginia battled Coastal Carolina for seven innings on Sunday afternoon, but the Mountaineers’ young pitching staff imploded over the last two innings as the host Chanticleers scored 12 runs in their last two at-bats for a 14-2 win. Six WVU pitchers allowed seven hits, three walks uncorked six wild pitches and hit two batters in the carnage. Nineteen Chants came to the plate, and with just one extra base hit, produced, in the words of WVU head coach Randy Mazey “two touchdowns”.
“You play a long season, you are going to get your butt whipped sometimes, and you are going to whip some sometimes,” Maey noted. “This was one of those games.”
At the outset, it looked like another pitchers’ duel was unfolding. For the second consecutive game of the day, West Virginia (5-3) jumped out on top of its opponent with a run in the first inning, as Braden Zarbnisky singled to lead off the game, moved to second on a throwing error on a pickoff attempt, moved to third on a Matt McCormick groundout, then scored on Paul McIntosh’s squibber to the right side against a shifted Coastal Carolina defense.
Tyler Strechay (0-1) got his second start of the season for WVU, and had a bit of rough going. He allowed single runs in the first and second, but steadied himself to get the final out in each of those two frames. After recording the first out of the third inning, he gave way to Skylar Gonzalez, who turned in his second consecutive excellent outing. Gonzalez faced ten batters, walking one and hitting one, but allowed no hits or runs in 2.2 innings. Jacob Watters relieved Gonzalez for the sixth inning, and made quick work of the opposition, striking out the side on 14 pitches.
In the meantime, WVU was going up and down in order in the third, fourth, and fifth, but in the next three innings the Mountaineers showed some signs of life, pushing a runner to third in the first two while loading the bases in the latter. All those threats, however, produced just one run.
If the Mountaineers needed an example of how to take advantage of scoring situations, they needed just to look across the diamond as the late innings unfolded. The Chants (4-3) did let a two-on opportuity go by the boards in the fourth, but they piled up four runs in the seventh and eight more in the eighth against six Mountaineer pitchers. With the game out of hand, head coach Randy Mazey took the chance to look at a number of his young hurlers, with nine eventually making the trip to the mound. Only Gonzalez and Watters distinguished themselves, but Mazey noted that figuring out what his young pitchers can do is part of the early season process.
“We are trying to see where the pieces fit,” he observed after using 23 players in the contest. “We’re throwing guys out there to see what they can do.”
While painful, that’s part of the process each year for Mazey, who isn’t freaking out over the defeat.
“I’m not discouraged at all with where the team is at right now,” he explained. “It’s frustrating to lose by two touchdowns, but we arej’t going to panic. We just have to drive some runs in from the middle of the lineup. That’s what we aren’t doing right now. We have good hitters in the middle of the lineup. They will start hitting better. They always do.”
SEAMS AND BARRELS
Both benches were very vocal in the early going, with barbs aplenty directed at the opposition. West Virginia, though, was the only team to receiver a verbal warning from umpire Craig Mirr for bench jockeying.
* * * * * *
Braden Zarbnisky was the only Mountaineer with a multi-hit game, recording a pair of singles. Combined with his 4-4 effort against Illinois, he had six hits on the day.
* * * * * *
The two teams combined for six errors in the contest.