MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The early season theme for West Virginia baseball this year is all about figuring out who will and will not be able to contribute this season.
This will be especially true for the pitching staff to start the year. Over the offseason, either through graduation or the MLB draft, the Mountaineers lost 340 of their 528.1 innings pitched in 2019.
Replacing more than half of their innings pitched is never going to be easy, and so head coach Randy Mazey is using this early part of the season to see exactly who he will be able to rely on this year.
In the team’s home opener against Canisius Tuesday, six of the seven pitchers Mazey used were freshmen, five of them making their college debuts.
“Early on you’ve got to see who can pitch for you,” Mazey said after the game. “We didn’t pitch great, we walked nine today. That wasn’t too good, but you hopefully get those first-game jitters out of there.”
Freshman Tyler Strechay started on the mound for the Mountaineers and struggled out of the gate. After getting a groundout to start the game, Strechay gave up two runs on two singles, a double and a walk and then was lifted after just one-third of an inning.
Fellow freshman Skylar Gonzalez replaced Strechay, pitching 3.2 scoreless innings. Carter Lyles started the fifth inning and failed to record a single out, allowing three runs on two hits and a walk.
Tim Wynia took over the fifth and allowed one more run on two walks and a hit, but recorded the win thanks to WVU’s offense. Jacob Watters pitched the sixth and seventh, giving up two runs in two innings. Madison Jeffrey, the only non-freshman to see the mound for WVU Tuesday, pitched a scoreless eighth and red-shirt freshman Noah Short ended the game with a scoreless ninth.
Despite an overall shaking pitching day, WVU’s offense scored 15 runs and West Virginia won the game 15-8.
“If you’re going to have a bad game, the best time to do it is in a game that you win,” Mazey said. “Those guys will get better from that. Just the experience of getting out there and toeing the rubber against another team is going to help those guys.”
The only other freshman to pitch for the Mountaineers this season who did not appear Tuesday is lefty Jake Carr. Carr started WVU’s third game against Jacksonville over the weekend, getting the win pitching five innings of one-run ball.
The Mountaineers’ pitching depth will be tested this weekend as the team will play four games in four days at the Brittain Resorts Invitational in South Carolina.