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West Virginia Baseball Preview: Mountaineers Travel to William & Mary for a Weekend Showdown

The Mountaineers will take on the William & Mary Tribe in their final weekend series before Big XII play begins.

Kade Strowd gets the sign from the catcher
John Lowe/The Daily Athenaeum

This weekend, the West Virginia Mountaineers (10-6) will take on the William & Mary Tribe (12-2) in Williamsburg, Virginia. WVU’s final non-conference weekend series before starting Big XII play comes against an up-and-coming Tribe team who have gotten out to a hot start in 2019.

In the series opener, WVU will send ace Alek Manoah to the mound. Looking to set the tempo for the series, Manoah hopes to have an outing similar to what he did last weekend vs. Kent State, where he threw 7.2 innings, giving up just 5 hits, 1 walk and 2 runs while striking out 12. The Mountaineers need him to pitch into the 7th inning to save their bullpen going into the weekend.

Wade Strain (2-0, 2.95 ERA) has been solid so far for the Tribe. He has thrown 21.1 innings, giving up just 7 earned runs and striking out 18. Last Friday vs. Campbell, Strain gave up just 2 runs in 6.0 innings in the win. WVU has a chance to jump on him as he does have some control issues (12 walks in 21.1 innings).

On Saturday afternoon, WVU will put the sophomore righty Jackson Wolf (2-1, 3.38 ERA) on the bump. Wolf has been very good in 2019, allowing just 8 earned runs and limiting opponents to just a .211 batting average.

The Tribe will counter will #2 starter Bodie Sheehan (2-0, 2.16 ERA). Sheehan has put up some impressive numbers so far this spring, already throwing 25.0 innings with just 6 earned runs. He is not a strikeout pitcher, so WVU will need to battle in the count and work some good at-bats to get runs off of this starter.

Kade Strowd (1-1, 3.22 ERA) will look to greatly improve from his last start on Sunday against Kent State. Fresh off a Big XII Pitcher of the Week award in Week 3, Strowd lasted just 5.0 innings, giving up 5 runs and striking out 5 in a no-decision that eventually turned into a WVU win. He wasn’t necessarily bad, but he wasn’t able to miss bats like he did in the Oregon State game, and against this lineup, he’ll need to limit the contact he allows.

Jacob Haney (2-0, 5.28 ERA) is having a rough go of it this season so far. The sophomore has allowed 10 runs (9 earned) in just 15.1 innings in his 4 starts. WVU should be able to hit Haney pretty hard and knock him out of this ballgame early, if past trends hold up in this one.

Who To Watch For: William & Mary Tribe

Offensive team stats: .273 avg., 100 runs (7 rpg), 7 HR’s, 19 SB’s

Pitching team stats: .224 batting avg. against, 2.74 ERA, 108 K’s, 51 BB’s

  • Hunter Smith (C/DH) is the cleanup hitter and most dangerous offensive weapon for the Tribe. Through 14 games, he’s batting .315 with 3 HR’s, 5 doubles, 1 triple and 14 RBI’s. The Mountaineer pitchers need to be careful with Smith this weekend.
  • Hunter Hart (1B) is a true freshman and is leading the team in batting with a .333 average. The young infielder has 2 doubles and 9 RBI’s to go along with 4 stolen bases.
  • Matt McDermott (2B) is another young stud in the Tribe infield. The sophomore from New Jersey is hitting .314 with 4 doubles, 3 stolen bases and 12 RBI’s.
  • Chris Farrell (Closer) is doing a very nice job out of the back of the Tribe bullpen to start this season. He’s successfully converted 2 save opportunities already, tossing 6.1 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts and 6 walks.

Who To Watch For: West Virginia Mountaineers

Offensive team stats: .220 avg., 80 runs (5 rpg), 15 HR’s, 41 SB’s

Pitching team stats: .218 batting avg. against, 3.14 ERA, 151 K’s, 67 BB’s

  • Tyler Doanes (2B) is the unquestionable offensive leader in 2019. The sophomore is batting .328 with 12 runs scored, 3 doubles, 1 triple, 2 HR’s and 8 RBI’s to go along with his 10 stolen bases. The leadoff man is dangerous and W&M will do well to circle him in their scouting report.
  • Darius Hill (RF) is one of the established senior leaders for the Mountaineers. He’s always a tough out as he’s batting .274 with 10 runs scored, 5 doubles, 2 triples, 2 homers and 9 RBI’s to go along with his stellar glove in right field.
  • Ivan Gonzalez (C/3B) is another stud on both offense and defense. Offensively, he’s batting .246 with 11 runs scored, 2 doubles, 3 HR’s and 12 RBI’s. Defensively, he’s thrown out 7 runners trying to steal - so don’t run on Pudge.
  • Sam Kessler (Closer) is a stalwart in the back of the Mountaineers bullpen. He’s successfully converted 3 saves to the tune of a 0.90 ERA in 10.0 innings. He’s also struck out 12 batters against just 2 walks. If he gets the ball, the Tribe will be hard pressed to cross the plate that inning or two.

Watch the Mountaineers take on a tough W&M squad this weekend and check back into The Smoking Musket for recaps following each game! Let’s go, Mountaineers!