Zarbnisky Gives All In Two-Way Effort Against Oklahoma State
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia two-way standout Braden Zarbnisky is used to the grind of preparing for both pitching and hitting duties. He said that wasn’t a factor as he worked through the starting assignment, and hit in the leadoff spot in WVU’s 6-4 loss to Oklahoma State on Sunday at Monongalia County Ballpark. After three years of performing in both roles, he has the routine down.
Also helping him is pitching coach Dave Serrano, who has coached a number of two-way players in his lengthy college coaching career.
“I’m used to it, but there’s nothing that sneaks up on me,” Zarbnisky said of the demands of being a position player and designated hitter as well as a pitcher. “Coach Serrano knows that I have been here three years, so he lets me be me unless he needs to step in.”
Serrano didn’t need to do much of that, as Zarbnisky gave West Virginia all he had, throwing 94 pitches through six innings while yielding five hits and four earned runs. He walked two and struck out five, but hit the wall after the sixth.
“That was probably about all I had,” the junior admitted. “Toward the end, my velo (velocity) started to drop, but I’m going to give it all I have.”
Zarbnisky wouldn’t admit it, but there’s no doubt that West Virginia desperately needed him to have a good outing and eat some innings. The pitching rotation has no set pitchers in roles at this point, as head coach Randy Mazey admitted that he could not say who next weekend’s starters against Kansas State would be. That need for stability in the pitching staff was evident over the latter stages of the game.
“We still have some moving parts and we’re trying to find the right spots for them,” Mazey said of his staff. “We still don’t know. You try to go with the hot guy occasionally and then the hot guys doesn’t pitch very well, and you are back to square one.”
In contrast to WVU, the Cowboys had an answer in the pen. Oklahoma State brought on Peyton Battenfield, who allowed just four hits and no runs over the final four frames while striking out five and avoiding a walk. West Virginia didn’t pitch badly in relief, but gave up the deciding two runs in the seventh. Mountaineer reliever Jackson Wolf struggled to find the plate, throwing only 18 strikes in 34 tries, and OSU batters reached him for two doubles and worked a walk in 1.2 innings.
“I am just going to go out there every day that I am called on and attack and try to get hitters out as quick as I can,” he said, noting that he didn’t feel any pressure to help the thin West Virginia bullpen.