Baseball: WVU Opens BIG EAST Play

  • By Grant Dovey
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  • March 22, 2012 04:53 PM
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University baseball team begins BIG EAST action this weekend as the Mountaineers play host to Connecticut in a three-game series from March 23-25 at Hawley Field.

Game one of the series is set for 5 p.m. Friday, game two begins at 3 p.m. Saturday, and first pitch for game three is noon Sunday.

“I know that they lost some top players from last year, but they also have some really good players in their program,” coach Greg Van Zant says. “Connecticut has always been a good team, they had a great team the last couple of years, but they were good enough to beat Oregon State at Corvallis. To be able to do that, you have to be a good team.”

Friday night’s series opener will start at 5 p.m. Mountaineer fans can pick up the 2012 baseball schedule poster featuring West Virginians Josh Harlow, Matt Frazer, Corey Walter and coach Greg Van Zant as the game is Poster Night. The game also serves as the first of five Dollar Nights, where all tickets, hot dogs, popcorn and Coca-Colas are available for purchase for just one dollar.

Audio for Saturday and Sunday’s games will be streamed over MSNsportsNET.com and carried on WAJR 1440-AM with Kyle Wiggs on the play-by-play.

WVU has won five of its last seven games, including a 12-7 victory over Akron on Tuesday evening to split a doubleheader with the Zips.

Van Zant will start sophomore right-hander Corey Walter (2-2, 3.52 ERA) on the mound for the Mountaineers Friday, followed by sophomore left-hander Marshall Thompson (2-3, 5.14) on Saturday and junior right-hander Dan Dierdorff (3-1, 3.98) on Sunday.

“All three of those guys have gone out and done what they can do,” Van Zant says. “They’ve been pretty consistent and have given us a chance to be in the game. You still have to score runs, but they’ve done a good job.”

Last weekend, Walter earned a win against Manhattan, lasting 8.1 innings, allowing just one run on seven hits with two strikeouts. The following day Thompson picked up his second win of the season, allowing no runs on two hits in six innings.

Connecticut coach Jim Penders has not yet decided on Friday and Sunday starters, but sophomore left-hander Anthony Marzi (0-4, 2.97) will start on Saturday.

WVU recorded a season high in both runs (12) and hits (15) in the win over Akron. Five different hitters recorded at least two hits and four batters recorded multiple RBIs in the victory. Frazer led all players with four hits, two runs, one RBI and one walk. Frazer also had three doubles.

WVU enters the series ranked 11th in the BIG EAST with a .241 team batting average, and the Mountaineers are No. 12 in team ERA (6.50). Connecticut is eighth in batting average (.274) and ninth in team ERA (4.43).

Shortstop John Polonius leads the Mountaineers at the plate, batting .314 on the year with one double, two home runs and 10 RBIs. Outfielder Bobby Boyd is hitting .313 with one double, one home run, one RBI and nine stolen bases, and Frazer is batting .312 with 11 doubles, one home run and seven RBIs.

Connecticut is led at the plate by Ryan Fuller, who is hitting .333 with five doubles, two triples and 11 RBIs. L.J. Mazzilli is batting .329 with four doubles, one triple, six home runs and 14 RBIs, and Tom Verdi is hitting .314 with one double, one triple, two homers and 16 RBIs.

WVU leads the overall series with Connecticut, 23-22, and the first meeting occurred in 1996. The teams last played in 2010 in Morgantown, with Connecticut sweeping the three-game series. The Mountaineers, however, swept the Huskies during the 2008 and 2009 seasons.