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Spanning the Globe ... So You Don't Have To


By John Antonik for WVUsports.com
May 23, 2013 02:18 PM
Spanning the globe so you don’t have to … It’s almost like Jedd Gyorko is back in the yard tossing up rocks and hitting them with his whiffle ball bat.

Have you seen what Gyorko has been doing to major league pitching lately? The former Mountaineer has hit safely in 31 of his first 43 major league games to become the first Padre rookie since Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn in 1982 to do so, Jedd has five multi-hit efforts in his last eight games, he leads the team with 46 hits, 12 doubles and 17 extra base hits, and he has boosted his batting average to .284.

Also, following last night’s 438-foot home run off St. Louis starter Tyler Lyons, Gyorko now has the three longest homers at Petco Park this year by a Padre. He hit a 426-foot blast off of Arizona’s Ian Kennedy on May 5 and had a 420-foot shot off of Washington’s Gio Gonzalez on May 17.

Keep swinging Jedd!

***

For those of you concerned about construction on the new roundabout at the Mileground, work appears to be moving along nicely. The project should be completed well before the start of the fall semester in August.

It will be interesting to see, though, how out-of-towners deal with the new intersection, particularly those first few football game weekends when the Mountaineers play William & Mary on Aug. 31 and Georgia State on Sept. 14.

***

Because of the devastation caused by the category EF-5 tornado that hit the Oklahoma City area on Monday afternoon, the Big 12 has decided to go to a round-robin format for this year’s baseball championships with the top two teams from each pod facing each other in the championship game on Sunday, forcing coaches to alter their pitching rotations.

“This is my first experience with a round-robin format so it’s going to be hard for me to comment whether I like it more or not until after I get through it,” said West Virginia coach Randy Mazey. “I like our chances, though. Our guys are motivated and I think we’re playing with nothing to lose.”

Mazey announced yesterday that senior righthander Dan Dierdorff will start tonight’s tournament opener against Kansas and ace Harrison Musgrave will face TCU on Friday, leaving either lefty John Means or righty Corey Walter for Saturday’s game against Oklahoma State.

Dierdorff won his decision against the Jayhawks in Beckley back on April 27 and Musgrave blanked the Horned Frogs, 2-0, on May 11.

The last time West Virginia won a conference tournament, in 1996, weather issues also benefitted the Mountaineer pitching staff.

One day of play was postponed in the Big East tournament that year because of rain, enabling ace Chris Enochs to come back to close out the deciding game on Sunday against Notre Dame to clinch the Big East title. Enochs was named the tournament’s most outstanding player after tossing 10 scoreless innings.

***

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen isn’t making a big deal about the return of Ivan McCartney, telling the Charleston Daily Mail last week, “second chances are few and far between.” McCartney left the team before the Mountaineers’ Nov. 10 game at Oklahoma State last season after catching just nine passes for 112 yards in a limited role.

But here is why McCartney could be a valuable addition to this year’s roster if he sticks to the plan and does everything he’s supposed to - he is the only wide receiver on the team with any meaningful playing experience heading into 2013.

McCartney shows 59 catches for 701 yards and three touchdowns in three seasons at WVU, including a 49-catch, 585-yard, three-TD campaign as the team’s No. 3 receiver in 2011. McCartney appeared to be headed toward a big year in 2011, showing 34 catches through his first six games, including a pair of 100-yard efforts against Maryland and Connecticut, before his production waned toward the end of the regular season.

His 59 career catches are 35 more than the rest of West Virginia’s receivers combined heading into fall training camp.

There is clearly an opportunity for McCartney to turn things around and realize the type of career everyone was hoping he would have at WVU after he was invited to play in the U.S. Army All-American game following his senior season at Miramar High in Miramar, Fla.

With the recent addition of Florida State transfer Clint Trickett at quarterback, key wide receiver signees Mario Alford, Ronald Carswell and Shelton Gibson expected to arrive in town sometime this summer, and the return of a handful of injured guys who missed spring ball, the Mountaineer offense could take on a dramatically different look when training camp commences this fall.

***

Former Mountaineer quarterback Geno Smith has picked entertainer Jay-Z to represent him in his contract negotiations with the New York Jets. Jay-Z’s agency Roc Nation Sports also represents New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano.

***

Bob Huggins said repeatedly during last year’s disappointing 13-19 campaign that he was going to fix the problem. Well, the solution he came up with was to completely turn over his roster. The veteran coach is bringing in six new players so far, with another roster spot now open following the recent departure of forward Keaton Miles.

Just seven of the 15 guys listed on last year’s team roster (two were walk-ons) are returning for 2013-14, and all six newcomers Huggins is bringing in this fall stand 6-feet-7 or taller, putting West Virginia’s roster more in line with what it faced last year in the Big 12.

One other interesting tidbit to consider: Each time Huggins has had a disappointing season he has come back with a much better team the following year.

After going 14-16 during his first season at Walsh in 1981, his next team rebounded to win 23 games – a nine-game improvement.

Three years later, after going 12-14 during his first campaign at Akron, Huggins followed that up in ’86 with a 22-win season and an appearance in the NCAA tournament where his Zips lost to Michigan.

And in 2004, following his team’s 17-win season in 2003, Huggins led Cincinnati to a 25-7 record, a first place finish in Conference USA and a second round NCAA tournament loss to Illinois.

When you finish the season losing seven in a row, drastic measures are usually required, and Huggins has clearly acted.

Speaking of getting right in a hurry, did you notice what Kansas has done with its basketball roster in the last week and a half? First, the Jayhawks surprised almost everyone by landing the nation’s No. 1 player in 6-foot-7 guard Andrew Wiggins from Huntington Prep Academy, and then earlier this week, KU announced the addition of 6-foot-9, 262-pound Memphis forward Tarik Black.

Black averaged 8.1 points and 4.8 rebounds per game last year for the Tigers and will have one year of eligibility remaining. Wiggins, too, is expected to be a one-and-done player for Kansas.

Those two join an exceptional recruiting class that includes guard Wayne Seldon and center Joel Embiid, considered two of the top 25 players in the country.

Bill Self can really get it done on the recruiting trail, can’t he?

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Check out Antonik's book The Backyard Brawl: Stories from One of the Weirdest, Wildest, Longest Running, and Most Intense Rivalries in College Football History available in bookstores and online at your favorite retailers. A portion of the sales benefit the WVU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Also, be sure to "Like" the new Backyard Brawl Facebook page and tell us your personal WVU-Pitt story.

Tags
Geno Smith, Dana Holgorsen, Bob Huggins, Ivan McCartney, Jedd Gyorko, Randy Mazey, Bill Self


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