So far, so good for the Mountaineer baseball starting rotation in 2014. The staff of Harrison Musgrave, Sean Carley and John Means have been exceptional in the team’s first three weekends of the season.
West Virginia, 5-4, is allowing just three runs per game through its first nine games. All three starters have pitched in three games and earned a run average of under 2.40.
Friday was perhaps one of the best single-game outing in program history when junior Musgrave struck out 12 hitters in eight innings of work. The defending Big 12 Pitcher of the Year allowed just two hits without allowing a run.
“He’s ridiculous,” said senior first baseman Ryan McBroom. “(Musgrave) is always on his ‘A’ game. There’s never been a time I’ve seen him lower than an ‘A’ game. He just does his thing, and I’m proud of him.”
In all, Musgrave is 1-0 with a 2.33 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 19.1 innings pitched. The ace of the staff’s performance was expected coming off a masterful sophomore campaign. Head coach Randy Mazey said Musgrave is only getting better.
“His pitches are getting better,” Mazey said. “He’s really competing and making great pitches when he needs to. There’s nothing you can say above and beyond what he does.”
WVU boasts two other starters who are seeing a lot of early success. Junior Carley earned his first victory as a Mountaineer last weekend in a 6-2 win over Coastal Carolina. The Air Force transfer suffered an arm injury and sat out due to NCAA transfer rules to boast an ERA of below one. Carley has allowed just three runs, two of them earned, in 20 innings pitched.
The starting rotation is rounded out by junior Means, who could have been seen as the staff’s weak link before the start of the season. However, the Olathe, Kan. native bounced back from a rough Feb. 23 outing against San Diego State to throw seven strong innings of six-hit ball in a win over James Madison.
With the success the Mountaineers have received from the starting rotation to begin the season, the bullpen help is left sitting on the bench without much work. The bullpen pitched just six innings in three games last weekend in a series at Myrtle Beach, S.C. WVU won all three games.
“We have way more relief pitchers than we have innings to pitch because our starting pitching is so good,” Mazey said. “Not everybody is going to get to pitch on every weekend. That being the case, every opportunity you get, you have to take prime advantage of it.”
West Virginia looks to keep the momentum going on the mound this weekend when the team makes a return trip to California to take on Sacramento State and UC-Riverside as its week-long spring break trip begins.