Major League Venue On Tap For WVU Baseball
GRANVILLE — Spirits were already pretty high for the West Virginia Mountaineers after winning their series over the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels at Monongalia County Ballpark on Sunday, but WVU will get another major thrill tonight when they take the field at PNC Park in Pittsburgh against the Penn State Nittany Lions at 6:30 p.m.
“That’ll be a blast. We were talking about it, even if the weather is bad or if it rains, we’re just going to go up there and sit in the locker room and let the guys walk in the dugout,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “It’s a great opportunity, thanks to the Pirates and the Nutting family. (Pirates president) Frank Coonelly is a Penn State grad, so we get to play the Nittany Lions there.”
West Virginia is 13-15 against a schedule front-loaded with road and neutral-site games and currently ranked as the toughest in the nation by WarrenNolan.com.
They will try and continue the climb back towards .500 against the 7-16 Nittany Lions, who WVU defeated 4-2 at PNC last year.
“It’s a lot of fun. The stadium makes you feel tiny, compared to one like this,” WVU two-way standout Braden Zarbnisky said. “The atmosphere is cool. It’s going to be a tough game, but it’s fun.”
Mazey hopes that the novelty won’t wear off, but that the nerves do.
“I think there was (some nervousness) last year. Hopefully, that’s out of our system now. Most of our guys that will be in the lineup played in that game last year,” Mazey said.
“When you show up, you take it all in. You’re on the same mound as big leaguers like Gerrit Cole and you’re standing in the same batter’s box,” Zarbnisky said. “The field plays a lot bigger.”
First baseman Marques Inman homered in all three games of the UNLV series.
To do it in a fourth game, in a big league ballpark?
“That would be something special, for sure,” Inman laughed. “Last year, I was hurt, so I didn’t get to experience it too much. I’m looking forward to it, for sure.”
It’s a rare opportunity that Mazey wants to continue in the future.
“It’s something that I hope we can do every year. It’s something that our guys look forward to,” Mazey said.
Freshman left-hander Jackson Wolf (1-0, 3.09) will start for WVU, while PSU counters with sophomore right-hander Eric Mock (0-0, 5.40).