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West Virginia Baseball Series Preview: Mountaineers travel cross-country to take on the defending National Champion Oregon State Beavers

The Mountaineers will travel to Oregon this weekend to take on the defending national champions. Can WVU pull out a series victory from the Beavers?

Alek Manoah
John Lowe/The Daily Athenaeum

The toughest non-conference series the Mountaineers will play all season is upon us, friends. This weekend, WVU (5-3) will travel to Corvallis, Oregon to take on the defending NCAA Champions - the #3 Oregon State Beavers (8-0).

Oregon State has lived up to its preseason hype thus far, rattling off 8 consecutive victories to start the season. Offensively, the Beavers are batting a blistering .311 and have scored 71 runs, while limiting their opponents to just a .197 average and 18 runs allowed (2.25 ERA).

Simply put, Oregon State is good.

West Virginia has been streaky to start the year. After going a disappointing 1-2 in their opening weekend, they’re gone 4-1 in their last 5. However, the offense is still trying to find its groove, through 8 games, the Mountaineers are batting just .211 as a team, and have scored just 36 runs. The pitching has been the strong suit for the Mountaineers this season, limiting opposing teams to a .202 average and just 16 earned runs allowed (2.02 ERA).

In order to perform well this weekend, WVU will need to remember to bring their bats to the yard with them. A collective batting average in the low .200’s and a measly 4.5 runs scored per game will not get it done against the high-powered Oregon State lineup, who is averaging nearly 9 runs per game.

Players to Watch For:

Oregon State Beavers

Adley Rutschman (Jr., C) was an All-American last season and was named the College World Series Most Outstanding Player after collecting 17 hits to help OSU bring home the title. This year, he’s off to another blazing hot start, batting .400 with 4 HR’s and 11 RBI’s. He’s also a superb defensive player, throwing out 6 baserunners already this season.

Kevin Abel (So., RHP) was the 2018 Freshman of the Year after posting an 8-1 record with a 2.88 ERA and set a College World Series record after recording 4 wins. This year, Abel has struggled a bit out of the gate. The preseason Golden Spikes Award list nominee has a 1-0 record, but a ghastly 5.88 ERA. He will undoubtedly figure out his mechanics sooner or later, but hopefully for the Mountaineers sake, it’s after they see him on Friday night.

Alex McGarry (R. So., DH) is absolutely raking the ball this season. He’s batting an almost unbelievable .577 with 1 HR and 12 RBI’s. McGarry, who is listed as an IF/OF, is someone the pitching staff needs to highlight, circle, bold, and underline as a threat every time he’s up at the dish.

Sometimes, defending national champions fall off in the year following their championship due to players moving on, or the target that’s sitting on their back as a team. It doesn’t look like that’s the case with the Beavers. This squad is playing some phenomenal baseball right now, and the Mountaineers will certainly have their hands full this weekend. With the opportunity to earn some respect from college baseball’s blue-chip schools and the national recognition that goes along with that, can WVU do enough to take the series from OSU? Be sure to tune into all 3 games this weekend, as they will all be great matchups!

Let’s go, Mountaineers!