Golden Bear Math Problem - 10 games / 9 Days / 4 States & Final Exams...
The spring season for the West Virginia Tech Golden Bears has included a plethora of opponents that did not appear on the original schedule for Skipper Lawrence Nesselrodt and company.
Mother Nature, Covid-19 and rotating home stadiums were just a few of the obstacles that have tried to take the air out of "Big Picture" Nesselrodt's balloon but the veteran refuses to give up the fight when it comes to his ballclub and their season.
" Out of crisis, there is opportunity." Nesselrodt said. "My Dad was a trucker back in the pre-GPS days and he always would say if you think you are going the wrong way and you drive a little further you will find that you are on the right path. Perseverance and Optimism are the keys to success."
Ness will need all of the family optimism and a bushel of healthy arms as his G-Bears look to make up lost ground over the final 9 days of the River States Conference regular season. Mother Nature wanted to make sure she was able to show herself at least one more time as Saturday April 24th was lost due to a day long rain storm, turning a Friday / Saturday overnight trip into a pair of up and backs to the University Rio Grande.
All RSC series are set up to be a three game pairing with one day holding a single 9 inning contest and the other a twin bill consisting of one 9 inning game followed by one 7 inning contest. Friday was originally set to be a spend the night in Ohio but it quickly became a pair of up and backs with the double header then slated for Sunday after the weather report dictated the change of plans.
WVU-Tech headed into the home stretch needing a minimum of seven victories in the final 10 games to secure one of the six post season RSC tournament bids. The ten team league has been divided all season with IU-Southeast, Asbury and Point Park creating separation from the lower seven but six of the seven are still chasing the final three spots. Coaches and Athletic Directors have been working the phones trying to squeeze in the league games lost for various reasons.
Five of the 10 teams have played all 24 of their league games heading into the final week of the regular season but the other five have some serious work left to do. Nobody has more worked to do then the Golden Bears as Tech is four games short, while IU Kokomo needs to play three with Midway, Brescia and Ohio Christian each being one short.
The final series are all set for the following weekend so any of the 5 games postponed would have to be made up between Monday and Thursday (April 26th - April 29th). Easy enough to do until you break out your Rand McNally maps to see where the schools are located in comparison to each other. When you add the fact that the majority of the schools are either in the middle of their finals are closing in on the finish line.
Tech survived the up, back and then up and back to Rio spread over the weekend and thanks to the pitching of Wil Mullins in the series finale,, the Golden Bears are still alive in the chase. Heading into the nightcap against the Red Storm on Sunday the Golden Bears tragic number of elimination was reduced to one. Mullins pitched six of the seven innings in the 4-2 victory.
"Wil Mullins performance was heroic on a day when we had to have it," Nesselrodt added. "It was the second time this season he stepped up and snapped a losing streak."
What did the Golden Bears and Mullins reward for keeping the dream alive? After attending classes on Monday morning the team loaded up the bus for an eight hour ride to Kokomo, Indiana with the arrival time slated for just after Midnight on Monday night / Tuesday morning.
That leaves time for a quick nap, if you will before the team breakfast at the Hotel and then a double header that starts at 11:00 a.m. local time. Immediately following the conclusion of the second game the team will grab a on the go meal before returning to the bus for the four hour plus ride down to Owensboro, Kentucky.
Another night, another town, another hotel room sounds like it comes right out of Jackson Browne's finale on his Running on Empty album, Stay. One nine inning contest and then its back to the bus for the 409 mile trek back to Beckley. Thursday will feel like an off day by comparison as it will be just classes and practice before the regular scheduled weekend series with visiting Ohio Christian on Friday and Saturday.
With apologies to Kevin Costner's movie, I will call this one "For the Love of the Game."