A Little Know-Howe: A Look Back at WVU Baseball's 2019 Season and Why It's One to Remember

By Brad Howe on June 08, 2019 from A Little Know-Howe via Connect-Bridgeport.com

As sports fans we love great stories. Sure, we love wins too. But, when the wins come with a great story ... those are the seasons that we remember forever. 
Over the years, multiple different WVU teams have provided us with many of those seasons. Add the 2019 version of the WVU baseball team to that long list.  
A season for the ages - 38 wins, second best in school history. Another appearance in the Big 12 tournament championship game - the second in the last four years. And the cherry on top, host of an NCAA regional game for the first time since 1955. 
I realize the magical ride ended in as heartbreaking a way as you could possibly imagine, but we will long remember the ride in 2019. Randy Mazey and his staff deserve a ton of credit. The Big 12 Coach of the Year Award was much deserved.
Assembling the talent is step 1. West Virginia's staff did that. The talent still has to go out and perform in order for it to work though.Check that box too. 
You know about Alek Manoah. All the Homestead, Florida native did was go out and dominate the Big 12. Manoah racked up a school record 144 strikeouts in route to winning the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year Award. The Toronto Blue Jays made him the 11th overall pick in the MLB draft earlier this week. 
It took a couple of seasons for the program's highest ranked recruit to hit his stride. But when he did, it turned WVU from a really good team into one of the best in school history. Manoah’s path to WVU is a remarkable one. Having to beat out Mississippi State and Auburn for his services is no easy feat. Yet, that's exactly what happened. 
What began as a courtesy visit ended with Manoah “falling in love with the place” following a cookout at the Mazey’s house. Tony Caridi and I sat down with Manoah earlier this week for a nearly 90 minute discussion for our Three Guys Before The Game podcast. 
The twists and turns in Manoah’s life that led him to Morgantown are truly remarkable. 
If you’re interested in hearing more from the big right hander, you can watch the podcast HERE. : 
Manoah was the headliner, but he was by no means alone. Eight Mountaineers were selected in this year's MLB draft. Included among those eight were record-setting outfielder, Darius Hill. Hill set WVU records for games played, at-bats and doubles. He was selected in the 20th round by the Chicago Cubs.
Manoah’s battery mate, catcher Ivan Gonzalez was chosen in the eighth round by the Chicago White Sox. Add in Nick Snyder (11th round, Arizona Diamondbacks), Kade Strowd (12th round, Orioles), Brandon White (17th round, Los Angeles Angels), Chase Illig (29th round, New York Yankees) and Sam Kessler (34th round, Detroit Tigers) and you can see why it was such a successful year. 
Yes, part of the story for this team is the season-ending loss to Texas A&M on a two strike, two out, bottom of the ninth inning grand slam. That play and game assumes its place on the far too long list of gut-punch WVU sports losses. 
The lasting legacy, however, will be this group of Mountaineers giving us fun, big-time baseball in historic fashion in 2019.
Best of luck to the guys moving on to professional baseball. Thank you for an incredibly entertaining season. We'll be telling your stories for a long time. 
Editor's Note: Top photo shows WVU ace Alek Monoah,while Coach Randy Mazey is shown with Tyler Doanes in the second photo. Bottom picture shows one of the record crowds this year in Morgantown. All photos courtesy of WVU Sports Communications; top two photos by Dale Sparks.

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