Regular Season wraps with weekend trip to Texas

Gold and Blue Nation

The West Virginia University baseball team concludes its 2021 regular season with a three-game, Big 12 series at No. 2 Texas, from May 20-22, in Austin, Texas.

Thursday’s series opener at UFCU Disch-Falk Field is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET, while Friday’s contest also is set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday’s regular-season finale commences at 3:30 p.m.

Fans can listen to all three games on the Mountaineer Sports Network from Learfield IMG College on 100.9 WZST-FM, as well as various affiliates throughout the state, the TuneIn Radio App and WVUsports.com. Additionally, each contest can be seen live on Longhorn Network. For links to live stats, audio and video, visit WVUsports.com.

In a matchup featuring two of the top arms in the conference, senior left-handed pitcher Jackson Wolf (4-5, 3.13 ERA) goes for the Mountaineers on Thursday against Texas redshirt sophomore right-hander Ty Madden (6-2, 2.27 ERA). On Friday, freshman left-hander Ben Hampton (4-2, 4.08 ERA) takes the mound for the Gold and Blue, while the Longhorns counter with redshirt junior right-hander Tristan Stevens (7-4, 3.11 ERA). In Saturday’s finale, the Mountaineers turn to freshman right-hander Carlson Reed (4-4, 5.64 ERA) against redshirt freshman left-hander Pete Hansen (6-1, 1.83 ERA) of Texas.

WVU (22-23, 7-14 Big 12) is 13-8 all-time against Texas (38-12, 15-6 Big 12), including 6-6 in Austin. The two clubs haven’t met since April 26-28, 2019, when the Mountaineers took two-of-three games from UT on the road.

West Virginia enters the weekend on a season-long, five-game win streak. Thursday marks the squad’s first road game since April 25.

Last time out, the Mountaineers swept a doubleheader against Dayton on May 16, at Monongalia County Ballpark in Morgantown. WVU won, 7-6 and 12-6, with both games ending after seven innings.

The doubleheader capped a season-long, 12-game homestand for West Virginia. WVU finished 15-12 in Morgantown this spring.

Reed earned the win in the opener against the Flyers, while freshman infielder/right-handed pitcher Ben Abernathy registered the victory on the mound in Game 2. Additionally, sophomore right-hander Skylar Gonzalez was credited with a save in Game 1.

Senior infielder Tyler Doanes and junior outfielder Austin Davis each tallied five RBI in the two games, while sophomore catcher/infielder Matt McCormick led the way with three doubles in Game 1, the first Mountaineer to accomplish the feat since Jackson Cramer on Feb. 25, 2017. In all, the Mountaineers scattered 18 total hits between the two games.

With eight multi-hit performances in his last 12 games, Davis leads the Mountaineers with a .316 average at the plate this season. In the power department, senior catcher/outfielder Paul McIntosh and McCormick co-lead the club with seven home runs.

Additionally, McCormick leads the way with a team-best 26 RBI this spring, while sophomore outfielder Victor Scott’s 18 stolen bases rank No. 2 in the Big 12.

Meanwhile, Wolf ranks No. 2 in the Big 12 in strikeouts, with 93, and he has allowed three earned runs or fewer in nine of his 12 starts this season. Overall, the West Virginia pitching staff enters the weekend ranked No. 10 nationally and No. 2 in the Big 12 in strikeouts per nine innings (11.0).

Texas is led by fifth-year coach David Pierce. The Longhorns are 38-12 in 2021, including 15-6 in the Big 12. That’s good for second in the conference standings entering the final weekend of the regular season.

UT is listed as high as No. 2 in the national polls this week. The squad hasn’t played since May 9, when it closed out a three-game series at then-No. 3 TCU.

Texas, which is 25-4 at home this season, is led offensively by redshirt sophomore infielder Ivan Melendez, who is hitting .361 with 11 doubles, 10 home runs and 42 RBI. Redshirt junior infielder Zach Zubia’s 47 RBI are tops on the team.

On the mound, Texas ranks No. 3 nationally with a 2.92 ERA. Madden is 6-2 with a 2.27 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 75.1 innings of work, while Stevens is 7-3 with a 3.11 ERA in 75.1 frames. Additionally, freshman righty Aaron Nixon has seven saves on the year.

For more information on the Mountaineers, follow @WVUBaseball on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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