Zarbnisky Pacing Mountaineers at the Plate this Season
The West Virginia baseball team has gotten off to a 5-3 start to the season after splitting last weekend's four-game Myrtle Beach series.
Much of the credit for the Mountaineers upward spiral of play to begin the season can be pointed towards senior Braden Zarbnisky who holds a monstrous .500 batting average through the first two weeks of the season along with a team-leading seven runs.
Zarbnisky has recorded at least a pair of hits in seven of the eight games putting his total at 17 on the season and ranking him fourth in the country in total hits.
Including a four-hit performance against Illinois last weekend, the Marietta, Georgia native’s offensive production to begin the spring is evident in West Virginia’s victories. In the Mountaineers 15-8 win over Canisius on Feb. 18, Zarbnisky notched three hits as well as a pair of RBIs.
The following game against Kennesaw State, West Virginia plated seven runs and Zarbnisky knocked a pair of hits in the 7-1 thumping.
“Zarb’s just a great college player, both sides of the baseball, said West Virginia head coach Randy Mazey. "He’s our leader on offense, he can drive runs in, he can lead off, he can steal bases and he’s our closer. So, he’s super valuable and he never gets rattled and he’s been around for five years now so he knows the ropes pretty well."
Of course, the offense isn’t entirely Zarbnisky as the senior has gotten help from a crew of other Mountaineer bats as outfielder Austin Davis has recorded a .346 average and first baseman Matt McCormick has knocked nine hits, including a home run in 29 appearances at the plate.
“Having Matt McCormick start to swing the bat well is really going to help us down the stretch once we get him and McIntosh cooking at the same time, we’ve got a chance to drive some runs in,” explained Mazey.
After redshirting his senior season last year, Zarbnisky started in 49 games in his junior year in 2018 and led the Mountaineers with 42 walks and 27 stolen bases. The junior was also third on the team with 39 runs scored and also held a .403 on-base percentage.
Zarbnisky’s sophomore year saw him earn playing time in 52 games while leading the team with a .336 batting average and a .417 on-base percentage.
What’s even more impressive is that Zarbnisky also holds a solid pitching role on West Virginia’s roster after finding his spot as the team's closer in 2018 while going 2-3 with a pair of saves and only surrendering 19 earned runs.
Zarbnisky has made two appearances on the mound this season, both saves, throwing a total of 1.2 innings and three strikeouts on the year.
The Mountaineers are back in action this Friday as they take on VCU at 3:00 pm in the first game of the Central Virginia Challenge.