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Justin Jackson: Just when you think WVU baseball is down for the count, it delivers a knockout blow

Apr. 13—GRANVILLE — There have already been a few times—and remember, it's still just mid-April—that you could have turned your attention away from this WVU baseball season.

You could have called for a body bag early on, after the Mountaineers lost its two top hitters in J.J. Wetherholt and Logan Sauve to injuries that cost both young men to miss a combined 39 games.

Getting no-hit by Oklahoma obviously didn't feel good.

Then losing to Marshall just four days ago, well, no one would have blamed the baseball doctors to have diagnosed a flatline at that point.

Except there is a real sense of resiliency in this WVU bunch that can't be overlooked.

Just when you're ready to pronounce them dead on arrival, these Mountaineers continue to jump right back up and say, "No, not yet."

"Our coaches do a great job in convincing our guys that over the course of 60 games, you're going to lose a game you shouldn't have lost, " WVU head coach Randy Mazey said Saturday, after the Mountaineers knocked off No. 17 UCF 7-5 to win the first two games of a three-game series. "We lost a really bad game at Charlotte, because we lost a fly ball in the sun. We lost at Marshall. That's two games out of 60, we'll get that back."

WVU (21-13, 10-4 Big 12) may have already done that with these two wins against the nationally ranked Knights (21-11, 8-9).

And here's why you can say that: Even with all of the injuries and a few disappointing defeats, the elephant in the room at the moment—the way Mazey described it, anyway—is the Mountaineers are tied at the top of the Big 12 standings at the halfway point.

WVU is tied with Oklahoma, and even that comes with a terrific bounce-back story. Yes, the Sooners threw a no-hitter against WVU, but then the Mountaineers came right back and won the next two games to win that series.

"Baseball is a weird game, and it's different than any other game, " is how Wetherholt tried to explain it all. "You don't see a lot of Power Five teams lose to smaller schools in football, because the skill level is just that much deeper.

"It can be like that in baseball, but it's one of those games where you get that other guy on the mound on any team. He can control the game and he can win it for his team. The biggest thing is knowing who we are as a team and one loss is just one loss. We can beat anyone on any given day."

Are these Mountaineers a real contender in the Big 12 ? Will they find a spot in the NCAA tournament ?

Honestly, it depends on what day you watch them, and that can truly be as exciting as it can be frustrating.

Here's what we do know: Wetherholt continues to get stronger by the day. No, he's not close to 100 % right now, he said as much after hitting his first home run of the season in Saturday's win.

But he's going to get there. Sauve is only going to get better. Sam White is going to continue to be the most valuable utility player.

Grant Hussey is going to hit some more home runs, so will Reed Chumley and Kyle West.

Who knows how many complete games Derek Clark can pitch, and Aidan Major can compete with any pitcher in the Big 12.

On paper and in theory, all of that is true.

In reality, WVU is either one hell of a story in the making or, well, do we really even want to make a guess as to what will happen the rest of the way ?

"We have a good team chemistry, " Hussey said. "We're not a team that gets too low or gets down on each other or the coaches.

"We continue to believe in the approach that if we keep doing the right things, good things are going to happen."

That is a belief that comes from Mazey's constant preaching. It sounds really simple. Hey, just forget that last game and look forward to the next one.

Sometimes simple does the trick.

"This team has been so even keeled, " Mazey said. "We have been playing really good and consistent baseball in this program for a long time. We have done a good job of convincing them to have a short memory and to always be ready to play the next one."