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W. Virginia wants to leave nothing to chance after NCAA snub

The Associated Press — By ERIC OLSON - AP Sports Writer

West Virginia refuses to be ignored this year.

The Mountaineers won 17 of their last 21 games last season to finish 36-22 but were left out of the NCAA baseball tournament after a crushing extra-inning loss to TCU in the Big 12 championship game.

"We went into this season saying, 'Hey, we're out to prove something,' coach Randy Mazey said. "They keep telling us we're not good enough to play in the postseason, so that's what we've been using for motivation. The best way to motivate this team is to tell them they can't do something."

West Virginia (21-13, 8-4) won two of three against Big 12-leading TCU over the weekend and is the only Big 12 team to have won all of its conference series. TCU had beaten the Mountaineers 11 straight times before the series in Morgantown.

On the strength of two walk-off wins, the Mountaineers were No. 8 in the RPI on Monday and entered the major polls for the first time, as high as No. 21.

The Mountaineers haven't played in the national tournament since 1996. They came close to breaking through in 2013, and closer yet last year, but the selection committee couldn't overlook a number of bad nonconference losses.

They returned a young nucleus and brought in a talented freshman in center fielder Brandon White, who leads the team with a .360 batting average and 11 stolen bases. They have five sophomore everyday players, including third baseman Austin Cole (.326) and right fielder Darius Hill (.292).

Nos. 1 and 2 starters BJ Myers (3-2, 3.38 ERA) and Michael Grove (3-1, 2.70) have been consistent, and Alek Manoah (0-0, 3.00) appears set to fill the Sunday role after Conner Dotson broke his right (throwing) arm on April 2.

The bullpen has been up and down, but it combined to allow no runs on six hits with eight strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings of Sunday's 5-4 win. The day before, West Virginia relievers allowed five runs in the eighth and ninth innings of an 8-6 loss.

"It was a different day, different atmosphere," Mazey said. "We had a pitcher's meeting before the game and talked about getting right back out there and getting a second chance to prove yourself as a bullpen."

BEAVERS' STREAK ENDS

Oregon State's program-record 23-game win streak ended with a 3-2 loss at Washington on Thursday. The Beavers took the series with 5-2 and 3-0 wins and lead Arizona and UCLA by five games in the Pac-12. The Beavers remain the consensus No. 1 team this week, and their 30-2 record (.938) is best in the country.

MAC TAKING ITS HACKS

Ball State's Sean Kennedy and Buffalo's Vinny Mallaro did the Mid-American Conference proud Saturday, becoming the seventh and eighth players in the nation to drive in nine runs in a game. Kennedy went 5 for 5 with three home runs, a triple and a double in a 23-5 win over Bowling Green. He batted .714 in three games against BG, and six of his 10 hits were for extra bases. Mallaro went 3 for 4 with a pair of three-run homers in a 21-20 loss to Toledo.

POWER SURGE

Missouri's Trey Harris homered in his last at-bat against Kentucky on Friday and in his first three at-bats on Saturday. Harris' three homers in a game were the most by a Missouri player since Jacob Priday went deep a school-record four times against Texas in 2008. Harris came close to a fourth homer Saturday when he hit a liner that went foul by less than a foot. Harris, with a team-leading 11 homers, is a bright spot for a team that has gone 6-10 since a 20-1 start.

BRUISING VICTORIES

George Mason swept a three-game series against Dayton but paid a price. The Patriots were hit by 14 pitches, including eight in a 10-5 win on Saturday. The Flyers have hit 65 batters in 34 games. That's second in the nation behind Army, which has hit 70 in 38 games.

STEALS BY THE DOZEN

Norfolk State, one of the top base-stealing teams in the country, swiped a school-record 12 against William & Mary last Wednesday. Cut Tribe catcher Matthew Trehub some slack, though. The freshman plays mostly first base and was catching only his seventh game.

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