Mountaineers Climb in RPI, Continue Push to Postseason - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Mountaineers Climb in RPI, Continue Push to Postseason

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MORGANTOWN - Hands raised, together on the field they were leaving behind, the West Virginia baseball team belted out the words to John Denver’s Country Roads.

Head coach Randy Mazey and the Mountaineers had just wrapped up a series win over a top 20 opponent in Texas with over 2,200 fans on hand to witness the Hawley Field farewell.

“We were saving it for the right moment,” Mazey said of singing Country Roads. “That’s just a perfect time to do it with the last game ever on this field. Unbelievable crowd and they’re up there singing. Somehow you’ve got to thank everyone for coming and that’s about the only way you can do it.”

The scene was almost foreign to someone who has been frequenting baseball games in Morgantown in recent years. In 2012, the season ended with a loss to South Florida, knocking WVU out of any postseason play just hours before then-head coach Greg Van Zant was fired.

Fast forward just two years and the program is unrecognizable. It has advanced in quality of play and in fan attendance so much that even Mazey had to take a moment to enjoy the atmosphere from time to time during the home finale.

“A couple of times, I came out to coach third base and I looked up on that hillside and it was just littered with people and every seat was taken,” Mazey said. “I told somebody before the game, just look how far we’ve come in such a short period of time. Texas comes to town and the community rallies behind us. I made a plea to everybody to come out here and help us win, not just watch the game, and they do that.”

With announced attendance figures that each rank in the top 5 all-time at Hawley Field, the three-game series was a sign of things to come. Only it won’t be happening again this season.

WVU plays its final “home” game in Princeton Tuesday night as they welcome Virginia Tech. The problem with that is the Mountaineers will drive over three hours to get to the game, while the Hokies have about an hour’s trek.

Mazey and his crew grew accustomed to long trips for home games last year, when the team played its Big 12 contests in Charleston and in Beckley rather than in Morgantown. 

Next season, when the brand new $21 million ballpark is ready for use, Mazey will likely not be logging so many miles to play at “home.”

“We’re probably going to try to use our brand new, multi-million dollar facility as much as we possibly can,” Mazey said. “We’ll have to see what the future holds on that one, but if we can get home games and if people in Morgantown are going to really support us locally here and if we can attract great crowds, we’re going to spend a majority of our time at home.”

The Mountaineers have proven that there is a product worth supporting in Morgantown and it is evident in West Virginia’s No. 24 RPI. While the players admit their 26-17 overall record and 9-8 conference showing is not what they hoped for at this point in the season, the 31st-best strength of schedule has helped WVU get to its nationally standing.

Many online predictions have the Mountaineers making it to an NCAA Regional, which would be their first such showing since 1996.

“We talk about it some and the reason we talk about it is because you can’t ignore it. With social media and the Internet, it’s out there,” Mazey said of the postseason projections. “We talk about it, but the context we talk about it is the importance of playing every pitch of every game. If you start looking too far into the future, you lose sight of what’s right in front of you. That’s why we talk about it – to keep them focused on what’s right ahead of them.”

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