Game Preview: Baseball resumes Backyard Brawl

By Ryan Decker

One of the nation’s best, and oldest, rivalries in collegiate athletics resumes on the diamond Tuesday as the West Virginia Mountaineers (12-9) travel to Charles L. Cost Field in Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers (11-10).

Pitt enters the game winners of each of its last three games, and WVU is coming off a successful weekend against Jacksonville.

WVU BASEBALL 4
Graphic created by Ryan Decker

West Virginia is no stranger to playing on the road, having played all but three of its games away from Monongalia County Ballpark this year.

For both teams, though, it will be one of the first times playing on a Tuesday in 2017.

Pittsburgh has played just one Tuesday game, while the Mountaineers have yet to play on the second day of the workweek, with both previously scheduled Tuesday games being postponed.

In the Mountaineers’ only other mid-week contest of 2017, they sent freshman Isaiah Kearns (2-0, 4.80) to the mound. Kearns is one of two freshmen, along with Carter Camp, to make a start.

Pitching coach Derek Matlock said prior to the season that the Tuesday starter role could be a potential spot for a freshman arm to mature.

Kearns has been listed as the probable starter against Dan Hammer (0-1, 5.50). Hammer has made three starts this year, giving up a team season-high six runs earlier this month against USC Upstate. Pittsburgh is 1-2 as a team in games started by the Philadelphia native.

Offensively, Jackson Cramer enters the contest after a powerful weekend at the plate.

The Mountaineer senior blasted the game-winning home run far into the night Friday, and then put another ball over the outfield fence in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader.

Along with Cramer, five other West Virginia hitters tallied hits in at least two of the three games against the Dolphins.

The Mountaineers average nearly six runs per game, while the Panthers are scoring just over 4.5 runs per contest.

Caleb Parry leads a Pittsburgh hitting attack that does not for a very high average – 63 points below WVU’s season average. Parry is tied for the team lead in home runs with two, and is among the team’s leaders in average, runs, hits, RBI, and slugging percentage.

Pitt doesn’t have a single hitter with an average over .291. West Virginia, on the other hand, has seven regular hitters, and two more non-regulars, who boast a better average.

Six Mountaineer hitters have clubbed multiple long balls this season, led by Cramer with four.

First pitch of the 154th meeting between WVU and Pitt is scheduled for 6 p.m. You can hear the game live on 91.7FM in the Morgantown area, or on u92.wvu.edu.

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