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WVU baseball: Mountaineers have more adversity ahead

MORGANTOWN -- Three months, 18 road trips, 30 victories and 52 games are in the scorebook for West Virginia's baseball team and yet the Mountaineers are nowhere near finished -- or inconvenienced.

"These next 10 days for Mountaineer baseball will be pretty important," Coach Randy Mazey said Sunday following the conclusion of a 1-2 series against TCU, the first series loss since the first week of April.

WVU (30-22) finishes non-conference play with today's 6 p.m. game against Marshall (19-31) at Linda K. Epling Stadium in Beckley. The season series is even 1-1. The Thundering Herd ended a nine-game losing streak against WVU in April, but the Mountaineers won the second game two weeks later.

That's a secondary concern for WVU, though.

The Mountaineers are two games back of first-place Kansas State in the Big 12 standings after starting last weekend's series in a tie for first place. West Virginia travels Wednesday in advance of the three-game series at Oklahoma State that begins Thursday.

To make that happen, WVU will bus back to campus after tonight's game, get as much sleep as possible, and be at the airport in Pittsburgh in time for a 7 a.m. flight to Oklahoma City.

That's followed by the conference tournament that begins May 22 in Oklahoma City.

"Every time I've challenged them to do something, they've responded," Mazey said. "We've got a huge challenge coming up. The schedule challenge the next three days is going to be as bad as it's been the entire season, but we're going to flip that into a positive.

"We started the season with an unbelievable travel schedule and we're going to finish it that way. I have no doubts we're going to come out (tonight) and play hard."

To start a season in which all Big 12 home games would be played in Charleston and Beckley, WVU played its first 10 games and 17 of 18 on the road as either the visiting team or in a tournament. The 19th game was the first of the 11 games in Charleston. Tonight's game is the last of four in Beckley. The Mountaineers had only eight games on campus.

"We prepared them for adversity," Mazey said. "They better get used to facing a little more."

The opener against TCU was rained out and WVU played three games in two days. Mazey needed to use nine pitchers in the second and third games.

"They abused our pitching pretty good," Mazey said.

After tonight's game, the Oklahoma State series begins a day earlier than normal, though a sweep and some help could get the Mountaineers their first conference title since 1996.

WVU has also had a little trouble with its only mid-week games between conference series. The Mountaineers lost at home to Pitt between series wins at Kansas and against Oklahoma, survived seven lead changes to win at Youngstown State between a series win at Texas and the Kansas series and were shut out by Marshall between a series loss at Kansas State and a series win against Texas Tech.

The loss to Marshall gave WVU a three-game losing streak, something it hasn't exceeded all season.

"Back in August when school started, the first thing we did after we met as a team for the first time, the first thing we did was go on a 12-mile hike in honor of the Big 12 Conference," Mazey said.

"I told the guys the reason we did that was because we thought getting into this league, we were facing something pretty insurmountable. But we played the entire season and we grinded it out and climbed almost to the top of the mountain. Now we've got three more games to get to the top."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.


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