Despite losing record, Mountaineers in mix for Big East baseball tourney berth
MORGANTOWN - As disappointing as it has been to date, West Virginia's baseball season is far from over. In fact, the Mountaineers still have one goal well within reach.
With four Big East series remaining, West Virginia is very much in the thick of the race for one of the eight spots in the league's postseason tournament that begins in a month in Clearwater, Fla.
Last weekend's series win over Pitt at Hawley Field was significant in the race for one of those tournament berths.
"We have the tie-breaker and we're a game ahead of them in the conference standings,'' WVU coach Greg Van Zant said.
In beating the Panthers twice in three games over the weekend, West Virginia improved to 17-24 overall and 5-10 in the Big East. And while that's certainly not a sparkling record - the Mountaineers are in danger of finishing with a losing record for the second time in three years, interrupted by last year's 28-27 mark - it's good enough to put West Virginia in contention.
Through 15 games of a 27-game Big East schedule, WVU is tied with Georgetown for ninth in the 12-team league. That's only a game behind eighth-place Villanova (6-9) for a tournament berth and three behind Rutgers and Seton Hall (8-7), who are tied for sixth.
The Mountaineers, who had a non-league game at Coppin State rained out on Tuesday, play a three-game series at Seton Hal this weekend. They also have a series at Georgetown in two weeks, and those will go a long way toward determining the bottom of the tournament field.
West Virginia also has two home series remaining, with Louisville next week and South Florida the final weekend of the regular season. USF is tied for first place in the Big East (11-4) with St. John's and Connecticut, two teams the Mountaineers have already played.
Pitt (4-11) and Cincinnati (2-13) are behind WVU in the standings.
In beating Pitt twice last weekend, West Virginia completed a 3-1 week that also included a 17-6 drubbing of Akron. In those four games, sophomore first baseman Ryan McBroom was 7-for-14 with a home run, two doubles and four RBIs. Freshman outfielder Bobby Boyd was 5-for-13 with five runs, a home run, a double, seven RBIs and three stolen bases. They were among six regulars who batted .300 or better during the week.
And, of course, beating Pitt in the final Big East series between the teams was nice, too.
"It's always good to win a conference series regardless of who you play,'' Van Zant said. "Pitt has beaten us the last two years so it was good to win this year.''
BRIEFLY: West Virginia's women's track team will split its team again this week, competing in both the Penn Relays in Philadelphia and the Ashland Alumni Invitational in Ohio.
Senior Chelsea Carrier-Eades is ranked No. 2 in the country in the heptathlon this season with her 5,821-point performance at the Texas Relays in last March. She finished second in the event in the NCAA championships as a junior.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dphickman1