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End of an era: West Virginia falls 2-1 to Tar Heels in Mazey's final game as head coach – WV MetroNews

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End of an era: West Virginia falls 2-1 to Tar Heels in Mazey's final game as head coach – WV MetroNews


CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — When West Virginia earned an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament, there were no shortage of question marks regarding the team’s pitching staff outside of ace Derek Clark.

Tyler Switalski and Carson Estridge provided answers and then some to many of those questions, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Mountaineers’ season from ending Saturday night in a 2-1 loss to No. 4 North Carolina at Boshamer Stadium.

“That’s the best Switalski has pitched as a Mountaineer for him to do that on this stage,” WVU head coach Randy Mazey said following the final game of his coaching career. “These kids in this West Virginia program will remember this feeling watching the other team dogpile and that kind of stuff drives you. They’re going to have to drive without ole coach Maze. But they’ll remember this feeling. The first time you play in a super regional, it’s hard. This is the natural progression of a program.”

Vance Honeycutt led off the contest with a home run on the game’s first pitch with the Tar Heels serving as the road team in their home stadium, but it was the right arm of freshman Jason DeCaro that was instrumental in leading UNC (47-14) to its 12th appearance in a College World Series and first since 2018.

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DeCaro, who enrolled early at UNC after bypassing his senior year of high school, was dominant throughout. He worked 6 1/3 innings and limited the Mountaineers to two hits, including one over the first six innings.

“He’s a special kid. Ultra competitive,” UNC head coach Scott Forbes said. “He gave up his senior year of high school because he trusted us.”

For DeCaro, it was important to put forth a better showing Saturday than what he displayed over two appearances last week when he was tagged for five runs in six innings.

“The biggest thing is I wasn’t too happy with last weekend and the coaches were great helping me out, working with me and helping me stay within myself,” DeCaro said. “All credit to them for giving me the game plan to go out there and do it.”

The Tar Heels’ first sign of trouble came in the seventh with a 2-0 lead.

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Reed Chumley’s one-out single marked the end of DeCaro’s memorable outing, and although reliever Dalton Pence struck out Grant Hussy upon entering, he then walked Spencer Barnett and surrendered a single to Kyle West that allowed the Mountaineers (36-24) to cut their deficit in half.

Pence struck out Ben Lumsden to keep UNC in front through seven frames.

WVU relief pitcher Carson Estridge, who entered with two on and one out in the seventh, escaped a bases loaded jam that inning before preventing the Tar Heels from scoring in the eighth and ninth as well.

“We said going into it we’re playing with house money because we’d never been this far as a program,” Mazey said. “That doesn’t mean it’s OK to lose, but you can play more relaxed. We did. We played relaxed and confident. I don’t think there was a doubt from anybody in our dugout that we’d win this game.”

While Pence retired the Mountaineers in order in the eighth, they put together quite a threat in the ninth.

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Sam White accounted for a leadoff single and after Chumley struck out, pinch runner Armani Guzman advanced to second on a wild pitch. Grant Hussey then worked a walk to put the winning run on base, before pinch hitter Ellis Garcia was caught looking on a 2-2 pitch.

But when West worked a walk on a full count offering, the winning run was in scoring position for Lumsden.

Yet Pence maintained his poise and induced a ground ball to first base for the final out, which he recorded after taking a throw from Harber, allowing the Tar Heels to dogpile in celebration on the mound.

“I’m not a runner. I had to dig it pretty good to get over there,” Pence said. “After I caught the ball and hit the bag, just an unbelievable feeling and we’re going to Omaha.”

Switalski got off to an inauspicious start when he surrendered a home run to Honeycutt, the leadoff batter’s single-season program record 26th this season, which came one night after he belted a two-run walk-off home run in an 8-6 UNC win.

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The southpaw settled in from there and retired eight straight battled until the second out of the third inning.

“First pitch caught a little too much of the zone. I had to redial it back in and keep competing,” Switalski said. “Kept competing and going down the order.”

With two outs in the third, Honeycutt alertly bunted for a single, which was followed by consecutive singles from Casey Cook and Parks Harber, the latter of which allowed Honeycutt to score what proved to be the winning run.

“In that inning there were two quick outs in front of me. I was trying to get it to the next guy and that was a good opportunity for me to do it with them shifting three guys to the other side,” Honeycutt said of the bunt single. 

WVU’s offense, meanwhile, struggled mightily to produce. Brodie Kresser’s second-inning single marked the Mountaineers’ lone hit through six innings, and Kresser was forced to leave ahead of the fourth inning due to an injury he suffered while sliding into second on a stolen base.

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Kresser was replaced by Barnett, before Garcia pinch hit for him in the ninth.

West Virginia looked to have a shot at the tying run reaching base in the eighth, but Skylar King’s well-struck fly ball was tracked down by Honeycutt in right-center.

“I’ve been saying since the beginning of the season he’s the best player in the country and I really believe that,” Forbes said. 

The result brings an end to West Virginia’s season as well as Mazey’s coaching career, with the veteran skipper having announced last summer that this would be his final season.

Mazey finishes with 558 career wins and a 372-275 record over 12 seasons with the Mountaineers.

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“I told my guys out there in my 35 years of coaching, that’s the team I want to end my career with,” Mazey said. “I love every one of them and I think they know that. The way we coach is I don’t care if you don’t get hits or throw strikes, I won’t love you any less. When kids play that way, it enables them to play more free.”

Pence threw the final 2 2/3 innings after replacing DeCaro. He struck out six, walked three and yielded two hits.

“He’s one of the best relievers in the country,” Mazey said.

Switlaski, who did not log more than five innings in any regular season appearance, had his second straight strong outing in the postseason. After throwing 7 2/3 innings in a win last week against Grand Canyon, the southpaw limited the Tar Heels to two runs over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out four, walked one and allowed five hits.

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“On a big stage,” Switalski said, “you have to have confidence and not let the moment scare you.” 

Estridge worked 2 2/3 scoreless and hitless innings in relief with six strikeouts.

Honeycutt, who finished 2-for-4, was the only player in the game with more than one hit.

Mountaineer standout shortstop JJ Wetherholt was hitless in four at bats and struggled over five NCAA Tournament games, going 4-for-20 without an extra-base hit.

“I wanted to win this one so bad and it’s how the game goes sometimes,” Wetherholt said. “It’s a tough game.”

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West Virginia

West Virginia Department of Health Facilities joins with lawmakers for next tour of hospitals in the state

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West Virginia Department of Health Facilities joins with lawmakers for next tour of hospitals in the state


CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) — Lawmakers from the West Virginia House of Delegates and State Senate visited and toured two more state establishments as part of the West Virginia Department of Health Facilities’ (DHF) effort to improve patient care in the state.

Participants in this tour included:

  • Chair of the Legislative Oversight Commission on Health and Human Resources Accountability (LOCHHRA) Delegate Amy Summers
  • Delegate Bob Fehrenbacher
  • Delegate Ric Griffith
  • Delegate Heather Tully
  • Senator Michael Oliverio
  • Delegate Joey Garcia
  • Delegate Phil Mallow
  • Delegate Mike DeVault
  • Delegate Michael Hite
  • Delegate D. Rolland “Buck” Jennings
  • Delegate George Street
  • Senator Jay Taylor
  • Delegate Matthew Rohrbach

The group was led by DHF Cabinet Secretary Michael J. Caruso where they went and visited John Manchin Sr. Health Care Center in Fairmont, before visiting and touring Hopemont Hospital in Terra Alta. Both establishments have a four-star rating by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for providing some of the best quality care to their patients.

“I am so grateful our dedicated public servants were able to see the passion the hospitals’ staff have in caring for some of our state’s most vulnerable citizens. I look forward to future partnerships as we work to overcome challenges and celebrate successes together,” Caruso shared.

“We appreciate the DHF coordinating these site visits to allow legislators the opportunity to view the care residents are receiving, as well as the facilities themselves,” Chairwoman Summers added.

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LOCHHRA members visited Jackie Withrow Hospital in Beckley in May. Before that tour, they visited Mildred-Mitchell Bateman Hospital in Huntington and William R. Sharpe, Jr. Hospital in Weston. 



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West Virginia

West Virginia Department of Health Facilities announces significant progress on staffing

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West Virginia Department of Health Facilities announces significant progress on staffing


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Health Facilities (DHF) is pleased to announce the hiring of more than 80 new employees at its state-run facilities, following the implementation of new recruitment and retention initiatives launched in January. These efforts have resulted in new state employee hires, converted 40 contracted staff to state employees, and decreased the vacancy rate by eight percent.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment,” said Michael J. Caruso, DHF Cabinet Secretary. “We are committed to providing excellent care for our patients, while also ensuring our staff are fairly compensated.”

The new system, a classification and compensation system created by the Office of Shared Administration’s Office of Human Resources Management, is designed to boost recruitment and retention initiatives and is based on recommendations from a market study conducted by Korn Ferry.

The initiative includes:

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  • New pay rates: This accounts for employee tenure. 
  • Flexible work schedules: This caters to employee preferences. 
  • Increased incentives for difficult shifts: This recognizes the additional challenges associated with certain shifts.
  • Targeted funding for hard-to-fill positions: This addresses specific recruitment needs. 
  • Appointment incentives: This allows for the recruitment of critical need positions, such as those in the nursing field. 

Since implementation, DHF has also reported success in converting 40 contract nurses to state employees, resulting in cost savings for taxpayers. 

The new system ensures employees retain their existing benefits package, including health insurance, dental, vision, and life insurance. To learn more about employment opportunities within DHF, visit Career Opportunities (wv.gov)



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West Virginia

Ways to celebrate West Virginia Day in 2024

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Ways to celebrate West Virginia Day in 2024


CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — There are several events and special activities happening over the next week for West Virginia’s birthday on June 20. Here’s a few weekend and day-of events to check out.

Morgantown’s WV Birthday Party

This free, family-friendly event is held every year in downtown Morgantown. According to a press release from Main Street Morgantown, the party is happening on Saturday, June 15 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. This year’s party will include a beer garden, Kids’ Zone, vendors, a vintage market and live music by Ryan Cain & the Ables, Grace Campbell, and Adrian & the Soul Miners. The event is free, but beer garden tickets are $20 and can be purchased in advance online here. Additional information is available on Main Street Morgantown’s website.

Official West Virginia Day Celebration

In a West Virginia Day celebration in Charleston on June 20, Gov. Jim Justice and his wife, Cathy, will announce the winner of the Great West Virginia Hot Dog Sauce Cook-Off. Additional details about the event have not been released as of June 13.

WV Coal Festival

The West Virginia Coal Festival in Madison runs from Thursday, June 19 to Sunday, June 22. It will have live music, vendors, a cornhole tournament, Mullet Showdown, pet contest and pie eating contest. Although not specifically a West Virginia Day event, what’s more West Virginian that a festival celebrating an industry the state was built from? Additional details are available on the event website.

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Meagher’s WV Day Cocktails

If you’re not looking for a specific event, Meagher’s Irish Pub in Bridgeport is celebrating West Virginia Day throughout the month of June with special cocktails, including the Mothman Old Fashion with Mothman simple syrup and walnut bitters, the Apple Butter Fizz made with apple butter syrup, the Strawberry Festival Sangria, the Mountaineer Mule made with blueberry puree, The Kanawha, the Almost Heaven Martini, the West VirGINia and Tonic made with blueberry rosemary syrup, and the Black Bear Fizz made with blackberry puree. For more details, check out Meagher’s Facebook page.

WV State Folk Festival

This festival in Glenville celebrates West Virginians’ pioneer history and culture from Thursday, June 20 to Sunday, June 23. Activities will have a small town West Virginia feel and include Appalachian craft shows, gospel sings and banjo and fiddle contests. Click here for more information.

WV Birthday Train Trip

The Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad in Romney, West Virginia is celebrating both West Virginia Day and National American Eagle Day on June 20 with short, one-hour train trips for $13. The trip promises “engaging and memorable experience for participants of all ages.” Lucky riders might even see a bald eagle or other West Virginia wildlife. To reserve a ticket or for more information, visit the Potomac Eagle website and click “Book Now.”

Cass Scenic Railroad in Pocahontas County is also offering train rides through the West Virginia Mountain Rails on June 20, but they are just the usual trips.

Blenko WV Day Pieces

Blenko Glass’ 2024 West Virginia Day pieces: The Wavelength charger inspired by the Green Bank Telescope (left) and the “Space Age” visitors decanter which is inspired by the extraterrestrial life that the telescope helps search for (right) (Courtesy: Green Bank Observatory)

If you’re looking for an exclusive piece of West Virginia art, this year’s West Virginia Day pieces by Blenko Glass Company are inspired by the Green Bank Telescope, including a limited edition white charger that looks like the largest movable radio telescope, an alien-inspired decanter and a Green Bank Telescope suncatcher. The 161 “Wavelength” charger pieces will be sold in an online auction at noon on Saturday, June 15, and the decanter and suncatcher can be preordered online here.

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