With five regular-season games left on West Virginia’s schedule this season, three batters are hitting better than they have all season – catcher Paul McIntosh, right fielder Austin Davis and third baseman Alec Burns. Beginning with a three-game series against TCU on April 30, McIntosh, Davis and Burns have combined to hit .415 with seven home runs, eight doubles, 16 RBI and 20 runs scored in the team’s last eight games.
For McIntosh, getting hot at the plate in the second half of the season is nothing new.
“That’s been Paul’s m.o. his entire career here,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “The first half of the season he’s kind of feeling his way through it, the second half of the season he usually gets really hot. He’s standing in there and seeing the ball really good right now.”
As a sophomore in 2019, McIntosh had a .247 batting average through the first 22 games of the season. He hit .298 over the next 30 games and finished the season with a .277 batting average. Similarly this year, McIntosh carried a .226 batting average into the TCU series and has hit .414 since, raising his season average to .270.
“I’m just letting the game come to me,” McIntosh said. “[Before] I’ve been trying to go out of my way and force the issue instead of just sitting back and letting it come to me. From an offensive standpoint, it’s just not trying to get too big and stay within my approach and barrel stuff up.”
McIntosh has hit three doubles and three home runs during this stretch, giving him the team lead in homers with seven this season. He is second on the team in both doubles (seven) and RBI (20).
“I wish we could put a finger on it,” Mazey said. “Paul in the second half is so much different than Paul in the second half and he’s done it every year. Some guys just do that, it takes them a little while to get into the rhythm of the season. If we knew the answer we would’ve addressed it or tried to fix it, but we’ll take him as a great hitter in the second half for sure.”
Like McIntosh, Davis began the series against TCU hitting just .255. He has been red-hot in the eight games since then, batting .469 and raising his season average to .306. Not a power hitter like McIntosh, Davis has still roped four doubles and hit his first career home run against Oklahoma.
“At the beginning of the year I was really focusing on my mechanics and after all that hard work paid off, at this point it’s just the mental part of the game,” Davis said. “Just making sure I’m having fun at the plate and staying in my approach.”
While McIntosh and Davis have been regulars in WVU’s lineup all season, Bruns had just four at-bats all year prior to the series against TCU. He was inserted into the starting lineup in game two against the Horned Frogs and has hit well enough to stay there. Burns has batted .333 since joining the starting lineup with three home runs, a double and five RBI.
“He’s come in there and he’s swinging with a purpose,” Mazey said. “He’s got some power, he’s got a little bit of a feel for hitting and he’s given us a whole different dimension there in that spot in the lineup. You’re going to have to pitch to him a little bit and if you make a mistake, he can put runs on the board with one swing of the bat, which is what we need right now.”
“This guy is must-see baseball, he’s a guy that can leave the yard at any given time,” McIntosh said of Burns. “He hasn’t played a lot, so it’s really impressive to see what he’s been doing at the plate.”
West Virginia will play its final regular-season home games this weekend with a two-game series against Miami (Ohio) on Friday and Saturday. The Mountaineers will then travel to Austin next weekend for a three-game series against Texas to close out the regular season.