WVU Sports with Tom Bragg

WVU center fielder Brandon White (via Big12sports.com)
WVU center fielder Brandon White (photo via Big12sports.com)

The simple answer is this: WVU needs to win, maybe just one more game, and the Mountaineers should be in *very* good shape to host one of the 16 NCAA tournament regionals next weekend.

West Virginia plays Texas Tech on Saturday morning needing to win just one game to eliminate the Red Raiders and advance to Sunday’s Big 12 championship game. Texas Tech checks in at No. 10 — one spot ahead of WVU — in the latest RPI available at NCAA.com. Beating TTU tomorrow morning would give West Virginia a 5-1 season series advantage against the Red Raiders. I’m no NCAA baseball tournament selection committee member, but that combined with an appearance in the Big 12 title game sure seems like an awfully strong argument to be included among the tournament’s top 16 teams.

If the Mountaineers go on to win league championship on Sunday in Oklahoma City, that would likely cement a regional next week at Monongalia County Ballpark.

If you’re like me, you have had your eye on projections for the 64-team field. The two that seem to track things the closest are at D1Baseball and Baseball America.

As of Friday evening, Mountaineer fans should be happy with D1Baseball and less happy, but happy still, with Baseball America.

D1Baseball has West Virginia projected as a host next week — right now as the No. 15 overall seed. Baseball America has WVU as a No. 2 seed going to Raleigh, North Carolina for a regional hosted by North Carolina State. Hosting, obviously, would be the best case scenario but if you have to go on the road, Raleigh ain’t a bad trip all things considered. West Virginia has a sizable alumni base in the Carolinas and the drive from Morgantown isn’t terrible.

Also, of course, keep in mind some of these projections will shift around some as games are being played Friday night.

So what happens if West Virginia gets swept by Texas Tech on Saturday? Well, the Mountaineers will probably start watching scoreboards pretty closely.

WVU has been one of a handful of teams that entered the week in the hunt for one of the last few regional seeds. If the Mountaineers are eliminated on Saturday, they’ll want to see teams like North Carolina and Louisiana State (which, as of writing this, is up 12-2 in the fourth inning against Mississippi State in the SEC tournament) knocked out of their tournaments as well. If all things are equal, the powers that be going with West Virginia over proven college baseball blue blood programs like UNC and LSU seems unlikely. Not impossible, just unlikely.

West Virginia is in a good spot with its pitching staff going into Saturday morning’s semifinal against Texas Tech.

WVU coach Randy Mazey said last week that Kade Strowd would pitch the Mountaineers’ third game in Oklahoma City. Strowd threw four innings last Saturday in a win against George Washington before Jackson Wolf came in for a few innings. Wolf hasn’t pitched yet at this Big 12 tournament, and WVU’s Wednesday starter Nick Snyder — only went 4 2/3 innings in the win against Kansas — also has more innings in his arm for the Mountaineers this weekend.

The bullpen has only been asked to pitch 5 1/3 innings so far this week in Oklahoma City, which should mean that group is plenty rested. Staff ace Alek Manoah threw eight innings in Thursday’s win against Texas Tech, so the chances of him making another appearance any time before a do-or-die situation for West Virginia seem slim.

Miss anything from WVU’s big win Thursday against Texas Tech? The kind folks in the Mountaineer athletic communications department have posted video highlights and the postgame press conference.