Baseball

Shortstop Taylor Munden connects with a pitch during a game against Maryland in 2014.

With the 2015 season in full swing, the West Virginia baseball team has kicked things into high gear.

After an up-and-down start to the year, the Mountaineers have ripped off seven-straight victories and have seen their record balloon to 16-10.

The most recent conquest in West Virginia’s win streak came at the expense of an old rival: The Pittsburgh Panthers.

Led by catcher Ray Guerrini, the Mountaineers took down the Panthers, 4-1, at Charles L. Cost Field in Pittsburgh.

Guerrini drove in all four of West Virginia’s runs on the day, including a three-run homer in the top of the fourth inning to open the scoring, and showed off his versatility with a squeeze bunt for another RBI in the sixth inning.

His efforts weren’t just appreciated on the offensive end of the spectrum; he caught nine innings of one-run baseball and made some heady plays from behind the plate.

“He (Guerrini) had a three-run homer, that’s my favorite play,” said head coach Randy Mazey in an interview with WVUsports.com. “Then he goes with the squeeze bunt, that’s my second favorite play. Then he picks a guy off third base with the bases loaded and two outs, and that’s my favorite defensive play. He did everything that he needed to do (Monday).”

The Mountaineers got a strong effort from their pitching staff, namely the bullpen, on their way to the win. Junior Jeff Hardy pitched five innings of one-run ball out of the bullpen, limiting the Panthers to three hits and striking out six of the 22 batters he faced.

“Hardy went out there and was just attacking the strike zone. That’s the best he has thrown since he’s been a Mountaineer, and it couldn’t have come at a better time than up here at Pitt,” Mazey said. “That’s super encouraging for the rest of the season because the last three weeks we have been waiting for a guy to come out of the bullpen and step up and do something like that.”

Now West Virginia will look to keep its hot streak going as they head out on the road for another Big 12 series, this time against the Kansas Statev Wildcats.

While the Mountaineers have gotten their heads above water in terms of their overall record, they still have work to do when it comes to improving their 2-4 conference record. After all, the sledding is toughest when you’re facing an opponent who knows your tendencies.

The Wildcats may provide WVU with a decent chance to get closer to or clear the conference .500 mark this weekend. Kansas State comes in to this series having lost five of its last six games, and its conference record sits at 1-5. The three-game series begins tonight at 7:30.