Arizona Baseball

WVU awaits winner of GCU-Arizona, DBU looks for another regional do-or-die run

West Virginia will play in the Tucson Regional semifinal round Saturday at 7 p.m. after beating Dallas Baptist 4-1 in the opening round Friday (West Virginia Athletics photo)

West Virginia is in the envious position of utilizing only one pitcher — senior right-hander Derek Clark — in a dominating complete-game shutout while Dallas Baptist is in a customary role of having to survive following an opening-round loss of a regional.

The Mountaineers (34-22) defeated Dallas Baptist 4-1 on Friday at Hi Corbett Field to open the Tucson Regional behind Clark’s gem and a three-run moonshot of a home run by batterymate Logan Sauve.

Dallas Baptist (44-14) will play in an elimination-bracket game against either Grand Canyon (34-23) or Arizona (36-21) on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Hi Corbett FIeld.

West Virginia will play the winner of the game between the Antelopes and Wildcats at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The Patriots mustered only four hits off Clark with rightfielder Alex Pendergast getting two of them. Clark recorded eight strikeouts with no walks.

Clark going the distance takes pressure off West Virginia’s pitching, namely its bullpen, with the possibility of playing four or five games in four days in the regional.

“I introduced (Clark) to a crowd before we left Morgantown (WVa.) and told them, ‘Our fate on Friday is in this guy’s hands and I wouldn’t want it in any other player’s hands,'” West Virginia coach Randy Mazey said. “Incredible what he’s done.

“A lot of people have pitched this pitching matchup today as the one to watch out for — you got the big tall righty (Dallas Baptist starter Ryan Johnson, who is 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds) against the little righty (Clark, who is 5-7 and 170 pounds) with all the heart. The heart won today, for sure. That’s how he always wins, with heart.”

Clark (8-2) shut down a Dallas Baptist lineup that features five players with at least 10 home runs this season.

Johnson, a top 50 MLB draft prospect, lasted six innings and allowed six hits — the most damaging by far Sauve’s three-run home run in the third inning — with four strikeouts and two walks.

Johnson, who walked only 12 in 100 innings entering the game, walked Ben Lumsden to lead off the third inning. With one out and Lumsden on second after a sacrifice bunt, JJ Wetherholt was hit by a pitch. Sauve then hit the massive home run on the first pitch.

West Virginia added another run off Johnson (11-3) in the sixth inning after Sauve led off with a single and Sam White followed with another single. Chumley scored Lumsden with a double.for the last run of the game.

“The chances of winning the regional go way down if you don’t win the first game,” Mazey said. “That’s the third time we’ve done that in my career — winning the first game. We haven’t won the second one yet, so that would be cool if we win tomorrow we’d do something the Mountaineers have never done — win the first two games of a regional.”

The Mountaineers are in consecutive regionals for the first time in 64 years.

Whereas Dallas Baptist coach Dan Heefner mentioned Saturday’s starting pitcher depends on the outcome of the Grand Canyon-Arizona game, Mazey was decisive about who he will put on the mound.

“We’re starting (lefty) Tyler Switalski. It doesn’t matter if we’re playing the Yankees,” said Mazey, who is retiring after this season following a 12-year career with the Mountaineers.

Switalski is 4-2 with a 5.94 ERA with 51 strikeouts and 33 walks in 53 innings spanning 16 appearances with 12 starts.

Heefner said he will choose between two right-handers — senior Jaron DeBerry (6-1, 3.75 ERA) or sophomore Jerrod Jenkins (6-0, 3.23) on Saturday.

“Both of those guys have been really, really good for us this year,” Heefner said. “We’re just going to look at who we’re matched up against and then make our decision based on that.”

Dallas Baptist, which has not advanced to the College World Series despite reaching the regionals 13 times in the last 17 years, has a history of surviving after losing the first game of a regional with last season at the Stillwater (Okla.) Regional a good example.

Dallas Baptist lost 9-5 to Washington in the opener before beating Oklahoma State 18-4 and Washington 9-1. The Patriots lost to Oral Roberts 6-5 in the championship round.

“I mean at this point, it’s survive and advance and do what we can to get our bodies ready for tomorrow,” Pendergast said. “Take tonight to reset mentally and go out there and do whatever we can to win from pitch No. 1.”

Heefner added about his approach with his team now that it’s in the elimination bracket: “Nothing changes — you can’t try any harder.”

“It’s just about playing the game the right way, having a great approach,” he added. “I think the one thing we can draw on is the number of times we’ve been in regionals. We’ve been in this situation before and we’ve worked all the way back to the championship game time and time again.

“I think that’s what we pride ourselves on, our toughness, the ability to keep going and persevere. We look forward to this group having the opportunity to do that.”


at Hi Corbett Field


Game One: No. 3 WVU 4, No. 2 Dallas Baptist 3

Game Two: No. 1 Arizona vs No. 4 Grand Canyon — 6 p.m. EST (ESPN+)


Game Three: No. 2 Dallas Baptist vs Game 2 Loser — 1 p.m. (TBA)

Game Four: No. 3 West Virginia vs Game 2 Winner — 7 p.m. (TBA)


Game Five: Game 3 Winner vs Game 4 Loser — 12 p.m. (TBA)

Game Six: Game 5 Winner vs Game 4 Winner — 6 p.m. (TBA)

Monday (If Necessary)

Game Seven: Same as Game Six — TBA (TBA)

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator in 2016 and is presently a special education teacher at Sunnyside High School in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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