For nine innings of baseball, the Mountain State is split in two.
The biggest college rivalry in West Virginia between WVU and Marshall is set for its third iteration of 2021, with the series tied at one win apiece. Of course, this is more than just a rubber match to decide the kings of this season, but just another addition to an old matchup that always gets attention across the state — no matter the sport.
“I just told our guys that you can’t let your in-state rival beat you twice in one season, especially on your home field,” said WVU skipper Randy Mazey after the Mountaineers won the second matchup 9-3 in Morgantown. “This is one of those water cooler games that people that work in the same office, one of them’s a Mountaineer and one of them’s a Thundering Herdsman, there’s a lot of talk that goes on at the water cooler.”
As is the trend across the athletic department, West Virginia owns the series over Marshall 49-25. It has especially taken a turn in favor of the Mountaineers, as they have taken 12 of the last 16 meetings dating back to 2013.
WVU is especially dominant at home, as the Herd haven’t managed a win in Morgantown since 1991.
This season has been much more even. The first clash happened on Marshall’s home turf — Ryan Capuano got the start and the win for the Herd, but that pitching staff combined to keep the Mountaineer offense stagnant. WVU mustered just one run on two hits in the contest as seven arms put work in for the Herd, while catcher Kyle Schaefer notched a trio of RBIs to head his squad over the Mountaineers, 7-1.
The Mountaineers got their revenge a few weeks later with a 9-3 win at Monongalia County Ballpark. WVU’s Jake Carr got his first of the win as he squared off against Capuano, but this time, the Marshall hurler couldn’t make it out of the second inning — the Mountaineers put up a pair of runs to force MU skipper Jeff Waggoner to make an early call to the bullpen.
By the sixth inning, WVU had scored seven straight runs to get a six-run lead before sending their rivals home to Huntington.
Tuesday, West Virginia and Marshall have the chance to settle the season series in a last-minute addition to the schedule (which is par for the course in college athletics during the COVID-19 pandemic). The Herd, which sits at 8-32 on the season, enter this contest on an eight-game losing skid which they hope to break before their final series in Conference USA against UAB.
West Virginia, on the other hand, aims for its 50th victory against its rival. The 17-23 Mountaineers hope to swing momentum back in their favor after a difficult weekend series at home against Oklahoma. They did, however, pull off their 110th victory over Pitt in the midweek game before its dates with the Sooners, so WVU has earned a bit of clout over its rivals in the last month.
First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+.