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Lineup Shuffle Gives WVU’s Offense the Boost it Needed

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After losing three games in a row where his team could only drive in four runs and left 22 runners on base, WVU baseball coach Randy Mazey decided to shake up his lineup a little bit.

Right fielder Austin Davis moved into the two-spot in the lineup, pushing second baseman Tyler Doanes into the three-hole. Designated hitter Vince Ippoliti was also moved into the cleanup spot, pushing catcher Paul McIntosh, third baseman Kevin Brophy and first baseman Matt McCormick down in the lineup.

Mazey’s goal was to try and generate more offense early in games. In all three games West Virginia lost, the Mountaineers had gotten runners on base in the first inning but failed to produce any big innings.

Against Illinois, WVU’s first two hitters got on, but only one eventually came around to score. Versus Coastal Carolina the Mountaineers had three hits in the first inning, but again only scored one run. Finally, against VCU Friday the Mountaineers had two runners on, one by virtue of an error, but could not score either in the first.

“That’s been the thing, we’ve been getting guys on base in the first inning,” Mazey explained. “In (three of the four) games that we lost we had guys one base, multiple guys, in the first inning, couldn’t drive them in so shuffled the lineup a little bit, getting the right guys in the right spots and five in the first set the tone for the whole game.”

Mazey’s tweaking paid off as the team scored 13 runs in each of its final two games in Virginia over the weekend. WVU won 13-4 over William & Mary Saturday and 13-1 over Richmond on Sunday. Both of those games featured big first innings by West Virginia. The Mountaineers scored five runs in the first against W&M and four in the first against the Spiders.

Leadoff hitter Braden Zarbnisky went 5-9 with five runs and two RBI in across the two games. He scored in each of the game’s first innings. Hitting behind him, Davis went 5-9 with four runs and two RBI of his own. Rounding out the top of the lineup, Doanes also went 4-9 with two runs and four RBI.

With the top of the order setting the table, it was up to the middle of the order to start driving in runs. Batting fourth, Ippoliti went 3-7 with a double, collecting three RBI and scoring two runs. Brophy went 4-8 with a double, two RBI and four runs scored.

It was McIntosh who seemed to benefit most from the lineup changes. WVU’s backstop went 4-6 with eight RBI and three runs scored in the two victories. He hit two doubles and a two-run home run.

McCormick sat against W&M, with Alec Burns getting the start at first. The freshman went 1-2 with a double, his first WVU hit, and two runs scored. McCormick returned against Richmond to go 3-5 with a double and home run, three RBI and two runs scored.

Zarbnisky leads the team with 12 runs scored and McIntosh leads with 13 RBI.

The Mountaineers will play a game at home against Kent State Wednesday before traveling to play a three-game series against Mercer over the weekend. The first pitch between the Mountaineers and Golden Flashes will come at 4 p.m. from Mon County Ballpark.

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Cody spent the last two years getting his master's degree in journalism from WVU. He graduated from Slippery Rock University in 2018 with a degree in digital media production. He was born and raised in Mercer, Pennsylvania.

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