By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Both West Virginia and Virginia Tech will arrive in Princeton on Tuesday riding the momentum of wins.
West Virginia (26-17) defeated No. 11 Texas in two of three games over the weekend, while Virginia Tech (19-27-1) snapped a 10-game skid with a win over Georgia Tech on Sunday.
Way back on Oct. 8, WVU Director of Athletics Oliver Luck traveled to Princeton to announce the creation of a baseball game between the two clubs to be played at Hunnicutt Field.
It’s been a hit before the game is even played, with WVU announcing on Saturday that the game is sold out, with Princeton Rays General Manager Jim Holland saying 1,900 spectators will be attendance.
While West Virginia has been working on a new baseball complex to replace Hawley Field — which is named for Bluefield native Roy M. "Legs" Hawley — to better compete in the Big 12, the Mountaineers have spent much of the last two years traveling the state.
That includes games last season in Charleston and Beckley, with Princeton added for this year, and perhaps into the future.
“I think we’d both love to make it a long-term fixture on the calendar,” said Luck, during that visit to Princeton last fall. “It’s not just coincidence that we’re working with Tech. We’re trying to get them involved with as many sports as we possibly can...”
According to WVU, nine of the top 10 all-time attendance marks have been set during that time. The top seven all-time attended games at Hawley Field have been set in the last two seasons as well.
“We had such a great response last year when we took the baseball team on the road for a number of games...,we had a great response, great fan support,” said Luck, in the October interview. “We’ve been trying to get Tech back on our baseball schedule for a while.
“I talked to the baseball coach (Randy Mazey) and we said let’s do Princeton. The stadium is in West Virginia, which is very important. It’s a beautiful ballpark, great fan support in Princeton and we thought it would be just a really fun event to have the Hokies and the Mountaineers tee it up on May 6.”
These clubs have met in Mercer County in the past, playing one game at Bluefield’s Bowen Field in 1994, and six games in 1980-83, with the Hokies holding a 6-1 advantage in those meetings.
Virginia Tech, which won the first game between these clubs in 1905, holds a 52-31-1 mark in the previous 84 games in the series, with their last meeting being a 7-4 win for the Hokies in Myrtle Beach, S.C. in 2002.
Fifty one of the 84 previous games have been decided by four runs or less, with the Hokies holding a 31-20 advantage in that scenario.
The Hokies are 9-3 in neutral site games against the Mountaineers.
Holland has called it a ‘dream matchup’ for Princeton, with the region’s two major universities meeting on the diamond.
“It’s a great opportunity for us because maybe there’s a lot of people that live close to here that have never come to a game here and this is just another way for us to show our ballpark off,” said Holland, back in October. “We’re excited to have these two good institutions here...”
Luck acknowledged that Morgantown is nearly a four-hour drive from Princeton, and the importance of giving West Virginia fans throughout the state an opportunity to see the Mountaineers play.
“We sometimes forget as the state’s flagship institution that we’re so far north and we forget sometimes that we really do represent the entire state,” said Luck, in October. “I don’t think you can get any further away from Morgantown than Princeton in terms of geography.
“I think this is an attempt on our part to make sure that our folks remember that we do represent the entire state from panhandle to panhandle all the way down to the southern coalfields and to the Virginia border.
“This, in a sense, is an important statement by our program that southern West Virginia matters a lot to us.”
First pitch on Tuesday is slated for 6 p.m., with gates opening at 4:30.
A link to the live video and live stats will be available on WVUsports.com. The radio broadcast will be on select affiliates of the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG College, according to WVU Athletics. Virginia Tech, which is also an affiliate of IMG, will also broadcast the game.
Here are few facts about each of the two teams, beginning with the host team, West Virginia.
•In 120 years of baseball, the Mountaineers have won 2,029 games.
•Produced 33 major league players, including current San Diego Padres’ second baseman Jedd Gyorko, and Atlanta Braves pitcher David Carpenter. Former big leaguers have included Steve Kline, Paul Popovich and Johnny Gorsica.
•Six current West Virginia players have been drafted in the past, but none sooner than the 33rd round (Harrison Musgrave, Phillies, 2013).
•WVU has made 12 NCAA tournament appearances, posting an 8-23 record in those games.
•Twelve All-American selections.
•Nineteen conference titles.
•Five native West Virginians play for the Mountaineers. The states most represented in Morgantown are Texas (8) and Pennsylvania (7).
•West Virginia has eight seniors on its current roster.
•West Virginia, which finished 33-26 last season, was the preseason pick to finish seventh in the Big 12. They are currently fourth with a 9-8 league mark. Oklahoma State and Texas Christian are on top at 13-5.
•Randy Mazey is in his second season as head coach of the Mountaineers, posting a record of 59-43. He is 245-203-2 in eight seasons in charge, leading TCU to the College World Series in 2010.
•West Virginia will participate in the Big 12 tournament on May 21-25 in Oklahoma City, Okla.
As for Virginia Tech:
•In 121 years of baseball, Virginia Tech has won 1,360 games.
•Produced 15 major league players, including current Texas Rangers’ pitcher David Saunders. Former big leaguers have included Frankin Stubbs, Mike Williams (Pearisburg, Giles High School), Kevin Barker (Bristol, Virginia High) and Johnny Oates.
•Virginia Tech has had 84 players take in the Major League Amateur Draft, including six last June.
•Ten NCAA tournament appearances, with the latest being in 2013. The Hokies are 9-20 in those games.
•Eight native Virginians play for the Hokies. The next highest represented states are California and Florida with five apiece.
•Virginia Tech has just two seniors on its current roster.
•Virginia Tech, which finished 40-22 last season, was the preseason selection to finish sixth in the ACC Coastal Division. The Hokies are 7-19 in the Coastal Division, and currently residing in seventh place.
•Patrick Mason is in his first season as a head coach at the college level, having replaced Pete Hughes, who left after last year for Oklahoma. He has been an assistant for the Hokies since 2010.
•Virginia Tech will take part in the ACC baseball tournament on May 20-25 in Greensboro, N.C.
—Contact Brian Woodson