The No. 14/21/22-ranked West Virginia University baseball team opens the 2021 season with a four-game series at Georgia State, from Feb. 19-21, in Atlanta, Georgia.
First pitch of Friday’s season opener at the GSU Baseball Complex is set for 2 p.m. ET, while Saturday’s double-header will begin at 1 p.m., and 5 p.m., respectively. The series finale on Sunday is scheduled for 12 p.m. Links for live audio and live stats of all four of this weekend’s contests can be found on WVUsports.com.
Senior left-handed pitcher Jackson Wolf (3-1, 1.05 ERA in 2020) is set to make his second consecutive Opening Day start for WVU on Friday, while Georgia State will counter with sophomore right-hander Ryan Watson (2-1, 5.95 ERA in 2020). Wolf, a 2021 Preseason All-Big 12 selection, was named a Preseason All-America Third Team honoree by the National College Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) on Feb. 17.
On Saturday, West Virginia gives the ball to sophomore lefty Jake Carr (2-1, 1.52 ERA in 2020) for Game 1, and junior left-hander Adam Tulloch in Game 2. GSU, meanwhile, will start sophomore lefty Seth Clark (0-1, 5.09 ERA in 2020) and second-year freshman left-hander Cameron Jones (2-1, 1.00 ERA in 2020).
Sunday’s contest will feature sophomore right-hander Tyler Strechay (2-1, 3.07 ERA in 2020) for WVU and second-year freshman righty Chad Treadway (0-1, 2.20 ERA in 2020) for the Panthers.
WVU and Georgia State have only previously met one time prior to this weekend’s series. The Mountaineers defeated GSU, 8-2, on Feb. 16, 2019, in Atlanta. Of note, the matchup marks the second season-opening weekend in Atlanta for the Mountaineers in the last three years. In all, WVU is 14-27 against members of the Sun Belt Conference.
The Mountaineers have received plenty of national attention heading into the new season. WVU was slotted at No. 14 in D1Baseball.com’s Preseason Top 25, marking the highest preseason ranking in program history. Additionally, West Virginia was listed at No. 21 in the NCBWA’s Preseason Top 35, and No. 22 in the USA TODAY Coaches Preseason Poll, the first time it ever appeared in the longtime poll’s preseason listing.
Ninth-year Mountaineer coach Randy Mazey’s squad returns 25 players from last season’s 11-5 club, which posted the program’s best 16-game start since 2009, before the season was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Mountaineers also welcome 12 newcomers to the team in 2021.
A trio of Mountaineers appeared on the Preseason All-Big 12 Team, as senior infielder Tyler Doanes and senior catcher/designated hitter Paul McIntosh joined Wolf on the squad. WVU was picked to finish sixth in the conference’s preseason coaches poll.
Carr and sophomore catcher/infielder Matt McCormick also return after earning Freshman All-America honors by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper last season. It marked the first time two Mountaineers received the honor in the same season since 2016.
Georgia State is led by second-year coach Brad Stromdahl, who holds a 9-7 mark with the Panthers. Prior to his time at GSU, Stromdahl had a successful, seven-season run at Georgia-Gwinnett (328-104).
The Panthers, who went 8-3 at home last season, were selected to finish sixth in the Sun Belt East Division, according to the league’s preseason poll. Offensively, GSU is led by Preseason All-Sun Belt honoree Elian Merejo. The senior catcher hit .407 with five home runs and 13 RBIs last spring. Merejo is one of five returning Panthers to hit .300 or better last season.
On the mound, GSU returns all seven pitchers who started at least one game in 2020, including Clark and Watson, who started four each.