Mountaineer bats catch fire before hosting No. 10 Texas – The Gold and Blue Nation Podcast
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – When it comes to hitting, current West Virginia (26-16, 9-6 Big 12) skipper Randy Mazey and former Mountaineer head coach Greg Van Zant have different philosophies.
Van Zant, who led the WVU baseball team for 18 years from 1995-2012, was big on hitting the long ball. In fact, seven of the program’s top home run hitters, all-time, played at least one season for him.
Mazey, meanwhile, is the architect of the #MazeyBall movement: doing the little things, stealing the extra base, finding ways to score while keeping the ball in the park and creating havoc on the basepaths while doing it.
That doesn’t mean Mazey is opposed to the round-tripper. It’s just not his style.
This weekend, though, his team threw it back to the Van Zant era with their home run hitting abilities.
West Virginia hitters deposited 10 home runs past the outfield fence at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.
Three were hit by freshman Grant Hussey, who now has a team-best nine home runs on the year. Two were hit by Braden Barry, including a 464-foot blast Sunday. Two more were mashed by McGwire Holbrook, who circled the bases both Saturday and Sunday.
Austin Davis, Nathan Blasick, and Dayne Leonard each had home runs in the series, as well.
The double-digit home run performance in the series victory over the Jayhawks was something that hasn’t been seen by a WVU squad in more than seven years.
Dating back to 2015, which is the last season for which game-by-game stats are available for the baseball program, the Mountaineers have not hit more than eight home runs in a series against one opponent.
WVU has hit eight homers in a three-game set twice: once in 2015 and once in 2016.
Mazey and company did so in early March against East Tennessee State in 2015, and matched that with eight long balls on the road at UNLV in February of the following season.
In 2017, the Mountaineers hit six homers in three games at home against Kansas but somehow lost the series. More on West Virginia’s hitting prowess against the Jayhawks in a moment.
In 2018, WVU clobbered seven home runs in a non-conference series at Western Kentucky.
The following year, the most long balls the Mountaineers hit in any one series was four. In 2021, the most in a series were five.
West Virginia matched that output in Sunday’s win against the Jayhawks alone. Adding in the rest of the series, WVU doubled last year’s high mark for series homers.
Speaking of the Jayhawks, Mountaineer hitters have been prone to leaving the ballpark against Kansas’ pitching staff.
Since the start of the 2015 season, West Virginia has had six or more home runs in a series against the Jayhawks three times. WVU did so to set the mark for the ’17 season. The Mountaineers also hit six homers against KU in Morgantown in 2015.
But Mazey hasn’t seen home run production like he saw this weekend, specifically the last two days, before.
The power surge comes at an interesting time for WVU.
The Mountaineers host No. 10 Texas this coming weekend. The Longhorns lead the Big 12 in home runs with 86, and top slugger Ivan Melendez is second in the country with 22 round-trippers.
Three different Longhorn hitters are in the top five of the Big 12 in home runs, and four Texas hitters are in the top 10 in the conference in slugging percentage.
West Virginia has just one player on those statistical leaderboards in the conference. It’s Hussey, who is now coming off the best Big 12 series of his young collegiate career.