Mazey’s club rallies for a big Sunday win over Texas – The Gold and Blue Nation Podcast
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s relief pitchers put on an absolute show on Sunday.
Chase Smith, Trey Braithwaite and Noah Short helped turn a 2-0 deficit in the first inning into an 8-6 win over Texas. The trio combined for 8.2 innings of work, which is even more impressive if you take a closer at the situations in which they found themselves vs. the Longhorns.
Before the team even arrived at the ballpark, it was prepared to play without Short as he was dealing with an illness. Prior to first pitch, the skipper was caught by surprise when he looked near the WVU bullpen and saw Short dressed and ready.
“He called in sick today and said ‘I don’t think I can make it.’ We got some medicine to him and let him sleep. I told him this is a 1 o’clock game, we’re not going to need ya until at least 3 p.m., so you can sleep until 2 p.m. as far as I care,” head coach Randy Mazey said. “What a great way to end it with a guy who didn’t even plan on coming to the field today.”
Short earned his second save of the season, Braithwaite tallied his third win and Smith had himself a memorable day as well.
The day ended just about as quickly as it started for fifth-year right-hander Zach Bravo. He only faced five batters and gave up two hits and three earned runs. That’s when Mazey signaled for Smith.
“Didn’t intend for Chase to come in that early. I said here you go, man, first inning and he said ‘this is the first time in my career I’ve pitched in the first inning I think,’” Mazey said. “He did his job. To get out of there only giving up the third run in the first inning with one of their best hitters at the plate. If that guy hits a three-run homer or a two-run double it’s a completely different game.”
Smith put a solid 3.1 innings in the books, allowing five hits, two earned runs and struck out two. He tossed 63 pitches, doubling his season-high 32 vs. Baylor. It was also his longest outing as a Mountaineer.
”He was on a pitch count. It was about 400,” Mazey joked after the game. “Yeah, he was going to stay out there. Same as Braithwaite, they were going to stay out there until they were out of gas because beyond Noah, we have to start throwing guys who haven’t really thrown as much.”
Braithwaite, the all-time saves leader in Navy history, relieved Smith in the fourth inning — entering the game about four innings earlier than usual.
“It was a little surprising. I hadn’t done that in a while but it ended up working out for us,” Braithwaite said.
Something else that he isn’t used to: 4.1 innings of work. The longest appearance he’d made this season prior to Sunday was 3.2 innings.
“I think that last time I went that long was in high school, to be honest,” Braithwaite said. “Or my sophomore year at Navy.”
Braithwaite allowed two hits, one unearned run and stuck out four. He walked five batters, including three in a row to load the bases in the top of sixth. That’s where his Navy experience came into play. He got out of the bases-loaded jam by sitting down the next batter and the inning ended with a fly ball to right.
“Maybe a little bit of the military lifestyle I was in. I’m just used to some adversity and that translated here,” Braithwaite said.
He faced one batter in the ninth before Short entered the game. He was ready to finish out his career-long outing, but as soon as he saw the skipper head toward the mound, he knew he didn’t even have a chance to put up a fight.
“I still wanted it. I know he was probably worried about my pitch count, but I wanted it,” Braithwaite said. “He already pointed to the bullpen by the time he got here. I think he knew if he would have got to me I would have said ‘no, no, no’ so he already pointed before he got to me,” Braithwaite said.
He finished with 85 pitches. His prior season-high was 51 vs. TCU.
So, we’ve seen Braithwaite close out games, and now, we’ve seen him come in early. Does that mean he’s ready to continue with his new experiences as a Mountaineer?
“Start one? I’m ready for it. If he gives me the ball, I’m out there,” he said.
All jokes aside, for a pitching staff that has seen its fair share of struggles this season, it also proved what it is capable of against the league’s hottest hitting team.
“Chase, Trey and Noah hadn’t pitched at all this weekend, so they were fresh. We couldn’t stand there and let them score five or six before we brought those guys in,” Mazey said. “They all did an unbelievable job.”