MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University baseball team will play at PNC Park for the fourth time on Wednesday.
WVU is 3-0 inside the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, with a pair of wins over Penn State, and another over rival Pittsburgh in 2019.
After a two-year break from playing at PNC Park, the Mountaineers will be back in Pittsburgh’s Major League Baseball stadium to face its biggest rival once again this week.
“It’s just a really cool experience for the kids to do that,” WVU head coach Randy Mazey said on Sunday. “Cool for the fans to see that game. Cool for both teams, because we’re both having pretty good years. So, it should be a pretty good game. So, yeah, we’re excited to play up there.”
Both West Virginia (22-12, 6-3 Big 12) and Pittsburgh (21-13, 9-8 ACC) are coming off weekend series against top-10 opponents.
The Mountaineers dropped this season’s previous Backyard Brawl meeting by a score of 9-6 at the Panthers’ home ballpark.
This meeting will be played at a neutral site, in one of Major League Baseball’s premier stadiums.
“It’s pretty cool, you know. For our guys to go out and stand in the same batter’s box as some of the greatest players who have ever lived,” said Mazey. “Who knows if Mike Trout or [Shohei] Ohtani — I don’t know who all has played at PNC — but [Juan] Soto from the Nationals. Our left-handed hitters are going to stand in his foot steps, so to speak. And our pitchers, Mariano Rivera has pitched on that field. So they get to stand in his footsteps.”
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The last time WVU played at PNC Park was in 2019. The Mountaineers roughed up the Panthers in a 9-4 victory.
Prior to that, West Virginia picked up a 4-2 win over Penn State in 2017, and a 3-2 win in extra innings against the Nittany Lions the following year on a Chase Illig walk-off single.
WVU and Pitt were scheduled to play at PNC Park in 2020, but that game, along with the remainder of the season, was canceled due to the onset of COVID-19.
Now, nearly three years removed from the program’s most recent appearance on the big league diamond in the Steel City, it still means just as much.
“I’m old school. But they know today’s players way more than I do,” said Mazey. “So, yeah, it’ll be a cool experience for them.”
At the time this story was published, neither team had announced its starting pitcher.
The Panthers’ hitters, who have a .284 team batting average, have excelled no matter where they’ve played. The same can be said for West Virginia’s athletes on the base paths.
Victor Scott II (30 steals) and Austin Davis (23 steals) both entered the week in the top 10 in the NCAA in stolen bases this year. Five Mountaineers rank among the 10 best base stealers in the Big 12 Conference.
Including this year’s previous meeting on March 30, Pittsburgh is 9-3 over the course of its last 12 games. West Virginia is 8-4 during that same span.
Wednesday will be the 204th edition of the Backyard Brawl on the diamond. The series began in 1895, the oldest and most-played series in WVU baseball history.
First pitch is scheduled for Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET. The game was originally set to be played Tuesday night, but was postponed due to inclement weather.