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West Virginia Baseball Preview: The Mountaineers’ Spring Break Destination? Morehead, Kentucky

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WVU will enjoy their week off from classes by taking on the Morehead State Eagles down in the Bluegrass State.

Darius Hill
John Lowe / The Daily Athenaeum

The Mountaineers are on spring break. Yep, it is true that some of the 30,000 students flock to the beaches in Texas, Florida, Mexico and the Dominican Republic during this week off, but the student-athletes on the baseball team get to go to Morehead, Kentucky! Lucky them! I guess that’s an acceptable price to pay in exchange for a full-ride scholarship and the opportunity to play for a Power Five program.

The Morehead State Eagles (10-4) are fresh off an Ohio Valley Conference Championship and a NCAA Tournament appearance in 2018 and they’re well on their way to another OVC title run.

The Eagles are an absolutely potent offensive team so far this season, batting .320 with 120 runs scored in just 14 games (8.5 runs per game). They are yet another formidable lineup for the Mountaineers to face in the non-conference schedule, but if WVU can take one or both games of this mid-week series, that will go a long way toward establishing their NCAA Tournament resume.

The Mountaineer will put Nick Snyder out there for the series opener on Tuesday afternoon. Snyder has made 3 appearances so far this year, allowing just 2 runs in 6.2 innings and striking out 12. WVU needs him to throw 5-6 innings on Tuesday as the bullpen was used quite a bit in Sunday’s finale vs. Kent State and will need to be rested for Wednesday’s matchup where the starter is undecided.

Alex Garbrick will make his 3rd start of the season, having thrown 10.1 innings to a 5.23 ERA (6 earned runs) with 11 strikeouts and 10 walks. Based off his numbers, the Mountaineers should be able to get some runs off of Garbrick, so long as they’re patient and let him make some mistake pitches over the plate.

Neither program has announced who will start the series finale on Wednesday, but I’m predicting that WVU will start freshman right hander Daniel Ouderkirk. He’s been mentioned several times as a potential starting option, and although he hasn’t appeared in a game so far in college, he may get his first opportunity this week.

Who to watch for: Morehead State Eagles

  • Jake Hammon (Sr., OF) is absolutely on fire this year. He’s batting 25-57 (.439) with 17 runs scored and 12 RBI’s already this season. The senior is just locked in at the plate right now and the WVU pitchers will need to be cognizant of his presence in the batters box.
  • Hunter Fain (Sr., C) is a man amongst boys at the plate. The big catcher is hitting 19-36 (.528) with 5 homers and 11 RBI’s to go along with 10 runs scored.
  • Connor Pauly (Sr., OF) is batting 18-60 (.300) with 1 home run and 13 RBI’s with 11 runs scored. He’s another senior on this roster that contributes in a very large way.
  • Reid Leonard (Sr., SS) is another senior having a nice year. He’s hitting 17-58 (.293) with 9 RBI’s and 18 runs scored. He serves as the Eagles’ leadoff hitter and evidenced by his high rate of scoring runs, he’s clearly doing a great job as a tablesetter for the program.

This brief two game series is an important one for the Mountaineers. Morehead State represents another tough non-conference opponent, one who would give WVU some high acclaim if they can sweep, or even split, the series this week. Follow the games at the links above and check back here at The Smoking Musket for recaps following each contest.

Let’s go, Mountaineers!