GRANVILLE, W. Va. — An hour before the first pitch between West Virginia and No. 5 Oklahoma State, cars were already pouring into the auxiliary parking lot across the street from Monongalia County Ballpark. Not long after, it was tough for anyone to find a spot to sit — even in the press box.

3,291 WVU fans made their way to the ballpark to see the Mountaineers’ series opener against the Cowboys, a thriller in which the visitors topped the hosts 2-1 in a show of defensive excellence. That marked the biggest crowd of the season and the eighth-largest in program history, and the Mountaineers could feel the difference on the field and in the dugout.

The mixture of the thriller on the field and the atmosphere in the stands even made WVU skipper Randy Mazey a little envious of his own supporters.

“Man, I hated to be a coach tonight, I wish I was a fan,” Mazey said. “Because if you’re a fan of college baseball, you just got treated to one of the best games you’ll ever see.”

Even WVU’s players could feel the impact of the crowd on the field. Throughout his start on Friday, righty Jacob Watters worked batters to 15 two-strike counts, and for the second time this season, he struck out eight of those batters.

“You get somebody with two strikes and everybody starts clapping, everybody starts cheering, it just makes it 10 times better…Confidence.” Watters said. “You have the whole fanbase behind you, you’re having fun, adrenaline is rushing through your body. You’re doing it for them more so than you’re doing it for yourself because you want to hear them louder and louder throughout the game so it’s more of a confidence booster and motivation to get that third strike across the plate.”

Friday night was the ninth time WVU has packed over 3,000 into its home ballpark, and it was the first time since its historic run to hosting an NCAA Regional in 2019. That campaign drew crowds with the help of a Backyard Brawl, a visit from a nationally-ranked Texas Tech squad and three NCAA Tournament contests.

Most notably, eight home games against teams currently ranked in the top-10 remain on the schedule (including two more to close out its series with No. 5 Oklahoma State), a second meeting with Penn State and one final Backyard Brawl clash in May. As WVU climbs in the RPI, Mazey wants that extra advantage, and he says his team gives his fans the perfect show to spend a weekend afternoon or evening.

He summed Friday night up in just one word: fun.

“A lot of opposing coaches come in here and say that this is one of the best college baseball atmospheres there [is], and they only say that when the seats are full of people,” Mazey said. “As long as we fill this up, I think we put a good product on the field and people enjoy watching us, when Austin Davis is out there stealing bases and the crowd’s into it, that’s just fun. College baseball was meant to be fun, and that’s what tonight was.”