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West Virginia Baseball Preview: WVU Opens Big XII Schedule at Baylor This Weekend

Both the Mountaineers and the Bears will play their first Big XII games of the season this weekend, as both programs try to keep pace with Texas.

Alek Manoah
John Lowe/The Daily Athenaeum

The Mountaineers (13-7) will travel to Waco, Texas this weekend for a big series against Baylor (13-6) to open Big XII play. The Bears, who started a sweltering 8-0, have gone 5-6 since. However, this is definitely not a team for the Mountaineers to overlook: the Bears have a dangerous offense supplemented by a solid pitching staff.

Who to Watch for: Baylor Bears

  • David Wendzel (Jr., 3B) is the most dangerous offensive weapon the Bears have. The #3 hole hitter is batting an outrageous .387 with 8 doubles, 3 HR’s, 18 RBI’s and 8 stolen bases. Along with that, he is a perfect 53/53 in the field, evidence that he is an amazing defensive player as well.
  • Nick Loftin (So., SS) is having a great year for Baylor. He’s batting .333 with 6 doubles, 1 triple, 3 HR’s, 12 RBI’s and 4 stolen bases.
  • Davion Downey (So., RF) is a young outfielder having a great start to the season. He’s batting .292 with 5 doubles, 3 HR’s and 15 RBI’s.
  • Kyle Hill (Sr., Closer) is an absolute shutdown arm at the back of the Bears bullpen. He’s 3/3 on save opportunities so far with a sparkling 0.00 ERA. In 9.0 scoreless innings, he’s struckout 13 and allowed just 5 guys to reach base.
  • Luke Boyd (Jr., RP) is another strong arm in the bullpen. Boyd (1-0, 1.93 ERA) has thrown 14.0 innings with 22 strikeouts and 8 walks.

Manoah had yet another sparkling outing last Saturday against William & Mary. He gave up just 1 unearned run in 7.0 innings and struck out 9. The preseason Golden Spikes Award nominee has lived up to the hype so far, striking out 45 guys in just 29.0 innings.

Dickens earned the first Friday start of his career last week against Cal Poly, after former #1 starter Hayden Kettler (2-2, 4.64 ERA) has been touched up pretty roughly in the first month of the season. He’ll likely still see action this weekend, but it’s not evident if he’ll start or come out of the bullpen. Dickens, on the other hand, pitched well last week, throwing 7.0 scoreless innings en route to his second win of the season.

Jackson Wolf had a so-so outing against the Tribe last time out. He gave up 3 runs in just 5.1 innings, striking out 5 but walking 4 in a no-decision. He’s been very solid this season, so we’ll see if he can get it back on track against the Bears this weekend.

Jimmy Winston is a curious case. He made his first start of the season last Saturday, throwing just 4.0 innings on 76 pitches with no strikeouts. He’s extremely effective at his craft, though. In 19.1 innings, Winston has given up just 2 earned runs.

Kade Strowd recovered from his blip against Kent State 2 weeks ago with a dominant outing last Sunday vs. William & Mary. He threw 7.0 innings, giving up just 2 earned runs and striking out 8. After recording his second win of the season, he’ll look for more on getaway day on Sunday.

Tyler Thomas is having a rough season by the looks of his numbers. He threw just 2.0 innings with 1 earned run in his last start, but tossed 46 pitches. He’ll look to have a much longer outing this Sunday vs. the Mountaineers.

The surging Mountaineers, who are currently being projected as a #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament in the Chapel Hill Regional, according to Baseball America, look to improve their resume this weekend vs. Baylor. A series victory will go a long way to cementing WVU’s resume as they move deeper into the schedule.