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Takeaways: Small Ball, Blaine Traxel Key to Mountaineers 7-2 Win



WVU Baseball head coach Randy Mazey watches from the dugout during a game.

West Virginia baseball won their third straight home game with a 7-2 victory on Saturday over the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Fifth year starting pitcher Blaine Traxel turned in another lights-out performance, and a fifth inning explosion by the offense was enough to put the Mountaineers over the top. 

Traxel Stars Again

Tired of hearing this one yet? Traxel went eight innings, pedestrian by his standards after pitching complete games in his past two starts. He allowed two runs, punching out eight on 115 pitches. 

Traxel’s ability to pitch deep into games—and do so effectively—doesn’t just help the Mountaineers win the games he starts, it also helps the bullpen rest from the previous day. It then keeps them fresh going into the series finale. 

Traxel has been the Mountaineers best pitcher by far this season, his 2.32 ERA and .9 WHIP pacing the team. He’s even outperformed presumptive ace Ben Hampton. Stay tuned to see if this is the start of something special in Morgantown, or merely a hot streak from a veteran player.

Small Ball, Big Wins

West Virginia’s five run outburst in the fifth inning was the deciding margin in the 7-2 victory. As per usual, head coach Randy Mazey’s fingerprints were all over the inning as three stolen bases aided the big frame: small ball at its finest. Shortstop Tevin Tucker got the onslaught started when he stole second, baiting a throwing error from Minnesota’s catcher that allowed him to take two more bags. Center fielder Braden Barry and second baseman JJ Wetherholt worked a successful double steal that put them both in scoring position. Barry came home on a wild pitch, Wetherholt on a single by catcher Dayne Leonard. True freshman first baseman Sam White added an RBI double to cap the inning. 

Mountaineers Taking Care of Business 

The Golden Gophers are not a good team this year, 2-13 to start the season. One can never complain when West Virginia takes care of business, though. The team knows that a win or loss here and there can be the difference between making the NCAA Tournament or remaining on the outside looking in: they fell victim to the latter scenario last season. 

The Mountaineers won’t be able to clean house in every conference game, especially not in a powerhouse like the Big 12.

Stacking wins now could be what puts them over the top in May.

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