MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Greg Van Zant has now worked 17 seasons as West Virginia's baseball coach and has been on the bench for 503 victories and Big East titles for regular-season and tournament play.
There have been plenty of big moments with plenty of big-time players - 49 in all who have been drafted or signed professional contracts - and yet Van Zant is particularly fond of what his Mountaineers accomplished Saturday afternoon.
"I've told a lot of people," Van Zant said, "that was one of the biggest games we've had since I've been the head coach here."
WVU closed the regular season at home with a 14-5 victory against Rutgers, which won the first two games of the three-game series and finished 10th in the 12-team conference standings.
Yet the Mountaineers rid themselves of a terribly timed six-game losing streak and finished 28-25 overall and 14-13 in the Big East.
Maybe 27-26 isn't much different than 28-25, but 14-13 is a whole lot different than 13-14, if not in reality, than in perception and especially now with Oliver Luck working as the athletic director and having already told those who should be listening that "results matter."
Not that Van Zant is or should be in some sort of imminent danger. That's a decision and a discussion for people with bigger paychecks and more valuable opinions than for those who only pay attention and arrive at a conclusion when it's convenient for them.
The truth is Van Zant and the Mountaineers, as their roster was constituted and then compromised, deserved a better result than a lot of people probably realize. Their success despite an awful lot of obstacles is what matters here.
"We came into the last weekend 13-11 and I told the guys I was really proud of them," Van Zant said. "Of that 13-11, we had nine games at home and 15 on the road. When you only have nine home games and 15 on the road and you're 13-11, that's pretty good."
And for some, that's not going to be good enough. And those same people may not have known about the unbalanced schedule or the roster that was going to rely on contributions from young and new pitchers and position players.
WVU finished fourth in a league that featured a very good Connecticut (39-15-1, 22-5 Big East) team, the conference champion that was ranked throughout the season, as well as St. John's (32-18, 18-8), which is good just about every year, regular contenders like Louisville and Notre Dame and upstarts like Pittsburgh and Seton Hall.
WVU and the Pirates (29-23, 14-13) play at 5 p.m. Wednesday as part of the opening round of Big East Tournament games in Clearwater, Fla.
Had the Mountaineers been swept by Rutgers, they still would have made the tournament, but as the No. 8 seed, which would mean beginning with UConn, which tied the conference record for regular-season Big East wins. Instead, WVU is the home team against a lower seed.