In their first official action of the 2020 season, the West Virginia Mountaineers took two of three games from the Jacksonville Dolphins in Jacksonville over the weekend.
WVU had strong starting pitching in all three contests, but its offense was only just able to produce enough runs for two wins.
On Friday junior lefty Jackson Wolf started the season off on the right foot, taking a no-hit bid into the seventh inning. In the end, it was the 22nd batter he faced that was able to get the first hit off Wolf. After a first inning in which he hit a batter and another reached on an error, Wolf retired the next 18 batters in a row.
WVU coach Randy Mazey said it was a side of Wolf that he had not seen.
“Jackson Wolf showed a level of toughness that I haven’t seen out of him, going out and answering every time they grabbed some momentum because we didn’t score when we had guys in scoring position,” Mazey said. “If he pitched like that every time out we’re going to win a lot of games with him on the mound.
“He was good from the first pitch to the last. When he gave up the hit in the seventh to break up the no-hitter, he came back and got a big strikeout after that. Every time there was just a little bit of adversity with him tonight, he answered right away which is super, super encouraging out of Jackson.”
Right-hander Braden Zarbnisky picked up saves in both wins, pitching 1.2 clean innings. He was also the team’s most productive hitter. Starting in left field in each game, Zarbnisky went 6-13 in the series with a double, two RBI and a stolen base. The senior missed all of 2019 due to injury, Friday’s win was Zarbnisky’s first game action since May 26, 2018.
“That’s the beauty of Zarb and that’s why we missed him so bad last year because he’s two players in one,” Mazey said. “He gets a big hit to put us up two-nothing and I trust him to give him the ball when the game’s on the line. He’s got experience in that situation, he’s had success as a closer and the bigger the moment gets, the better Zarb gets.”
WVU’s entire outfield had a productive series, with right fielder Austin Davis going 3-8 with a double and two RBI and center fielder hitting two triples in game two. The true freshman also scored three runs and had an RBI.
Fellow freshman Matt McCormick also had two hits in the series to go along with four walks in 10 at bats. McCormack was the designated hitter in games one and two and started at first base in game three.
The Mountaineers debut at home on Tuesday against Canisius in the earliest home game in program history. First pitch from Mon County Ballpark is at 2 p.m.