MORGANTOWN - Josh Harlow was a chief contributor as a healed relief pitcher in West Virginia's two baseball victories over Villanova last weekend at Howley Field.
After giving up no hits, no walks and no runs in one inning of a 7-6 win on Thursday, the 6-foot, 195-pound sophomore right-hander from nearby Shinnston did the same for the final four innings in Saturday's series finale 6-5 win. Harlow earned the victory when leftfielder Matt Frazer slammed a fast pitch over the right-field fence in the 10th inning.
"Josh Harlow was the story of the day," said a beaming head coach Greg Van Zant.
Indeed, it was that! He was in full command when relieving starter Marshall Thompson, who allowed five runs on four hits and five walks in six innings.
Harlow, who had been hampered by a painful right shoulder early in the season, faced the minimum 12 batters for the 12 outs in blanking the Wildcats. He struck out three batters.
"My shoulder is a lot better," Harlow admitted. "After an MRI showed no damage, I just kept rehabbing and it feels good now.
"That's my job as a pitcher - just throwing strikes," said Harlow with a smile. "Any time you walk (somebody), bad things happen.
"I try to pride myself on not walking anybody."
The former Lincoln High School star, his record now 2-1, lowered his earned run average to 4.98.
Van Zant couldn't have been happier with Harlow's performance.
He said, "He made big pitches and deserved to get the win. That's what we needed out of the bullpen.
"We haven't gotten a lot of help out of our bullpen until recently. Hopefully, Harlow will be able to provide more stints like he did last weekend."
Harlow said he was prepared to pitch an 11th inning if needed. He was just taking off his jacket and putting his glove down in the dugout when a "ping" sound came from the batter's box.
It was the sound from Frazer's bat for the game-winning home run. He's a sophomore from Alum Creek, W. Va.
"Our dugout just went crazy," Harlow noted. "I knew it was gone!"
The lack of effective WVU relief pitching really showed up in last Friday night's disastrous 26-11 Villanova blowout of the Mountaineers in Game 2 of the series.
Five relievers were responsible for 14 walks, 12 hits and 21 runs. Harlow called it "embarrassing" and "an eye-opener for everybody."
But the way West Virginia bounced back Saturday showed what can be done in baseball and on occasion.
"It felt great," Frazer said. His home run was his fourth of the season and he's batting 319.
Van Zant said, "Our guys were really resilient to be able to clear their heads in a short night (after the lopsided loss) and get back in there and start over.
"That says a lot about their character."
The Mountaineers, now 14-19 overall and 3-6 in The Big East, resume action on Wednesday in a non-conference contest at Maryland.