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West Virginia Baseball Preview: Mountaineers Host #22 Oklahoma In Pivotal Series

After getting swept by Baylor to start the Big 12 season, WVU will host the #22 Oklahoma Sooners this weekend looking to climb back up the Big 12 standings.

Tyler Doanes
The Smoking Musket

The Mountaineers (14-10) (0-3) will host the #22 Oklahoma Sooners (21-5) (3-1) this weekend at Monongalia County Ballpark for a pivotal Big XII series. After getting swept by the Baylor Bears last weekend, the Mountaineers have quickly found themselves tied for last place in the conference with Kansas and Kansas State.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma enters Morgantown as the #22 program in America after winning 8 of their last 10 games, including a sweep of the Kansas Jayhawks last weekend in Norman.

Who To Watch For: Oklahoma Sooners

Team offensive statistics: .288 BA, 251 hits, 179 runs scored (6.88 rpg), 14 HR’s, 47 doubles, 12 triples.

Team pitching statistics: 2.56 ERA, .229 BAA, 227 strikeouts.

  • Tyler Hardman (So., 1B) is a dangerous bat in the cleanup spot for the Sooners. He’s batting .352 with 5 HR’s, 28 RBI’s and 24 runs scored with 5 doubles and 1 triple.
  • Conor McKenna (Jr., 2B) has been a consistent bat this season for OU near the bottom of the lineup. He’s hitting .323 with 1 HR, 21 RBI’s and 21 runs scored. He also has 6 doubles and 2 triples, as well as 3 stolen bases.
  • Brylie Ware (Sr., 3B) is a veteran leader who’s slotted in as the #3 hitter in the Sooner lineup. He’s hitting .315 with 2 HR’s, 17 RBI’s and 24 runs scored.
  • Jason Ruffcorn (Jr., Closer) is a dominant arm at the back of the Sooners bullpen. Through 16.2 innings, he’s posted a 1.08 ERA and 6 saves. He’s not a big strikeout guy, after whiffing just 10 batters while walking 5.
  • Ledgend Smith (So., LHP) is a southpaw with a ledgend..ary (sorry, had to) name. He hasn’t allowed a run in 10.2 innings, even though he’s allowed 15 baserunners to reach.

Manoah pitched deep into his last start against Baylor, but still allowed the Bears to tally 5 earned runs against him in his first Big XII start of the season. He’ll get another chance on Friday night against the Sooners, when the preseason Golden Spikes nominee will look to lead the Mountaineers to their first conference win.

Cafalli completed 6.2 scoreless innings against the Jayhawks last Friday en route to his 3rd win of the season. The sophomore righty does have some control issues, as he’s walked 18 batters in just 33 innings on the season.

Jackson Wolf didn’t last long last Saturday against Baylor, allowing 4 runs in 3.1 innings before handing the ball over to Ryan Bergert, who gave up 5 more.

Nathan Wiles gave up 3 runs (2 earned) in 7.2 innings against Kansas last Saturday. He’s thrown 37.1 innings with 34 strikeouts and just 7 walks in 2019.

Strowd got hit with the loss last Sunday in the series finale after giving up 6 runs in 6.2 innings. He had been coasting up until the 7th inning, when Baylor was able to score 5 runs off of him. You’ll likely see Coach Mazey keep a close eye on him should he get deep into this start, ready to give a call to bullpen at the first sign of fatigue.

Levi Prater has been the most impressive starter for the Bears thus far in 2019. The sophomore left-hander has allowed just 4 earned runs in 36.2 innings with 46 strikeouts and 7 walks. In his last start, he threw just 5.0 innings, as the Jayhawks were able to get him out of the ballgame early, something the Mountaineers would be wise to do as well.

Can the Mountaineers earn a series victory against #22 Oklahoma this weekend? They’d better, if they want to remain in the mid-season hunt for the Big XII crown. Tune in this weekend as Manoah, Wolf and Strowd try to take the wheels off the Sooners buggies.

Let’s go, Mountaineers!