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Mazey runs off a winner in final home game as head coach, Mountaineers take series from KSU, 12-5

(Photo gallery by Teran Malone)

GRANVILLE, W.Va. — Randy Mazey knew this day was coming and there was no shortage of people to remind him.

“Everyone asked me: ‘Has it reached you yet? Has it hit you yet?’ It hit me today,” Mazey said.

‘Look at this place. Twelve years ago, West Virginia considered dropping its baseball program. And look what it has become.”

A day of ceremony and celebration at Kendrick Family Ballpark concluded with a 12-5 victory for West Virginia, securing a series victory over Kansas State in Mazey’s final home game leading the Mountaineers. The twelfth-year head coach will retire after this season.

(Photo by Teran Malone)

“This is the team I wanted to retire with. This is an incredible team, incredible kids. For them to go out and play the way they did today, knowing it was my last game on this field, I just can’t thank them enough. They played a great game,” said Mazey.

“I never once asked them to do it for me. I never wanted this day to be about me. They showed up to play. I think they knew I really wanted to sing “Country Roads” in my last ever home game on this field. That was a gift from them that I will never forget.”

In front of 3,232 fans, the Mountaineers finished their home regular season schedule with a 17-6 record at Wagener Field.

After dropping Friday’s series opener 4-3, the Mountaineers won two of the three games in the series by scoring 25 wins on Saturday and Sunday. WVU took a 3-0 lead through two innings thanks to a Reed Chumley RBI double, a solo home run from Benjamin Lumsden and a run-scoring double from Logan Sauve.

With a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning, junior shortstop JJ Wetherholt connected for his sixth home run of the season, expanding WVU’s cushion to 6-1. Wetherholt, who is expected to be one of the top picks in this summer’s MLB Draft, likely played his last game in Granville.

WVU shortstop JJ Wetherholt (Photo by Teran Malone)

“When you see what he has developed and changed, he is a once-in-a-lifetime player,” Mazey said. “It was just an honor to say that he and I shared our last year together.”

Junior left-hander Tyler Switalski was inserted into the weekend’s pitching rotation and provided a quality start. He allowed three earned runs (five total) in five innings while striking out five. The five-inning outing tied a season-best.

“(Mazey) has come to me after every outing, whether it was good or bad, and just gave me confidence,” Switalski said. “That allowed me to stay in the rhythm and get better and better every day.”

“He threw great and we’re going to need him to do that again,” Mazey said.

Just like on Saturday, West Virginia broke the game open in the late innings. K-State narrowed an eight-run deficit to four with a four-run sixth inning. However, the Mountaineers scored three runs in their final two frames at the plate to pull away.

Wetherholt led WVU with four runs batted in. Sauve and Sam White each had three hits. Skylar King hit his sixth home run of the season.

(Photo by Teran Malone)

Replacing Switalski, Carson Estridge pitched three frames and Joseph Fredericks closed out the match in the ninth.

West Virginia (31-19, 17-10 Big 12) will not play Tuesday. A possible addition to their schedule was discussed, but the Mountaineers are off until Thursday when they open their final Big 12 series of the year at TCU. The team will remain in Texas for the start of the Big 12 Conference Tournament in nine days. WVU is tied for third in the league with Texas. Oklahoma clinched the regular season title on Sunday.

“Oh by the way, that’s a huge series win for us to keep us in the hunt for the postseason. After all the show tunes and the dog and pony show, it was a really good win for us,” said Mazey.

“I told them that when this day is over and they take off their jerseys, it’s time to get ready to play TCU next weekend because we still have a lot to play for.”

“This weekend was a must-win. I feel like the guys came together and everything went well,” Switalski said. “Obviously next weekend is just as big. We just have to keep going and have a good weekend at TCU.”