The West Virginia University baseball team is off to a 10-4 start, and it’s a youth movement that’s leading the way. Four freshmen have seized regular roles in the starting lineup, and nine first-year players saw the field in a 6-2 win over Radford Tuesday.
But as freshmen like Kyle Gray, Cole Austin and Darius Hill emerge as the offensive linchpins of the Mountaineer lineup, the brightest gem of this rookie class might be WVU’s shortstop, Jimmy Galusky.
A West Virginia native, Galusky has emerged as one of West Virginia’s best players not only with his bat and glove, but with his work ethic and ability to learn whatever’s asked of him.
“You can teach Jimmy to do anything, and he’s going to give it 110 percent until he gets good at it, no matter what it is,” said WVU head coach Randy Mazey.
That point was illustrated on Tuesday, when Galusky got the chance to show off his newest trick. Galusky laid down two picture-perfect bunts for base hits, coming around to score both times – the second one bewildering everyone, even Galusky, as it rolled dead down the third base line without rolling foul.
“Coach Mazey taught me how to bunt like that,” Galusky said. “I’ve always had it in my arsenal growing up, and I could always do it, but we work a lot on it. I’ve learned a lot from him.”
The two base hits pushed Galusky’s batting average to .333, second-best on the team. That comes after Galusky’s heroics on Saturday night against Old Dominion, in the 12th inning of the second game of a doubleheader.
With his team down 5-4 and with runners on second and third, Galusky shot a base hit through the hole on the right side, winning the game and ending up on the receiving end of a dogpile from his teammates.
“I was telling some of the guys, I would have passed out down there, but I wasn’t going to say anything,” Galusky said. “It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done.”
Galusky has also caught attention with his slick glove at shortstop, appearing to be a worthy successor to graduated star Taylor Munden, now with the Miami Marlins system, who twice made ESPN’s SportsCenter last season with incredible plays in the field.
And while Galusky has only stolen one base this season, the lanky 6-foot-3 freshman shows good speed and the potential to be a threat on the basepaths. In his senior season at Preston High School in Kingwood, West Virginia, Galusky stole 32 bases to go with a .558 batting average.
Although Galusky was a star basketball player as well, making two all-state teams and setting Preston High’s all-time scoring record, Galusky decided to make his future on the baseball diamond for WVU.
It turned out to be a perfect choice. Galusky not only has shone in his first 14 games as a Mountaineer, but he’s joined a freshman class with the chance to revitalize West Virginia baseball – and along the way, has earned the respect of its veteran peers.
“It’s unreal, I can’t believe it,” sophomore infielder Shaun Corso said. “I’ve never seen freshmen play this well. Those guys are real ballplayers.”