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WVU Baseball Preview: Mountaineer Bullpen to Be Tested Early in the Season

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WVU relief pitcher Skylar Gonzalez. (Cody Nespor/WVSportsNow)

This story is part of a series previewing the West Virginia baseball team this week ahead of the Mountaineers’ season-opener against Georgia State on Friday. WVSN will publish previews of WVU’s outfieldinfield and pitching staff this week.

Bring back 25 returners to the West Virginia baseball team this season, there are not a lot of holes that coach Randy Mazey has had to worry about this offseason. Outside of a few injuries, the Mountaineers have a returner to fill nearly every role for this season.

West Virginia lost only two seniors after last season, closer Braden Zarbniksy and right-hander Dillon Meadows, and both were important parts of the Mountaineers’ bullpen. Because of that, the bullpen is the one area where Mazey may still need to figure some things out.

Mazey said he wants to use as many pitchers as he can early on this season to find out who the guys he can count on are going to be.

“We like to try and play a lot of games early because that’s when you see the young arms and see what they’re capable of,” Mazey said. “We don’t have as many games this year, not as many midweek games in April and May as we’re accustomed to…You need to know who you can count on later in the year and the only way to know that is to pitch them all early. ”

WVU will return four relievers who pitched more than six innings out of the bullpen in the COVID-shortened 2020 season.

Junior righty Zach Ottinger made seven appearances out of the pen last season with a 1.00 ERA in nine innings of work. He struck out six and walked two. Jacob Watters, a sophomore right-hander, had a 1.57 ERA in 7 2/3 innings spread across five appearances. He struck out 11 but walked six. A third junior, left-hander Beau Lowery, made two scoreless appearances last season and has a 3.94 ERA in 16 career innings.

Maddison Jeffery pitched 6 1/3 innings in six appearances. The sophomore righty had a 1.42 ERA with seven strike outs and two walks. Finally, sophomore Skylar Gonzalez pitched 8 1/3 innings in five appearances. He had a 1.08 ERA with 12 punchouts and four walks.

There are also a pair of new recruits on this year’s team that Mazey specifically mentioned should log some innings this season.

“With this year’s class, we’ve got some pitchers with some really good arms,” Mazey said. “Carlson Reed and Tyler Chadwick are probably guys you’re going to see on the mound.”

Reed is a right-hander from Marietta, Georgia. Perfect Game rated him as the no. 55 recruit in the state last year. Chadwick is also a righty, joining WVU from Marshall, Wisconsin. He was rated the no. 2 right-handed pitcher and no. 3 overall prospect in Wisconsin by Perfect Game.

Mazey has also mentioned left-hander Ben Hampton as a third freshman who should see some time on the mound early in the season. Hampton, also from Wisconsin, was ranked as the no. 22 overall recruit in the Badger State.

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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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