WVU takes on Pitt in final Big East Backyard Brawl
Published: Friday, April 20, 2012
Updated: Friday, April 20, 2012 09:04
The final Big East Conference Backyard Brawl will take place at Hawley Field this weekend.
Pittsburgh (18-18, 3-9) will head to Morgantown for a crucial three-game series beginning tonight at 7:05 p.m.
Games two and three are scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.
West Virginia (15-23, 3-9) enters the game after a season-high 17-run offensive explosion at Akron Tuesday.
"To get that win and get our confidence back up was huge," said sophomore first baseman Ryan McBroom. "Putting up a 17 spot was big. It showed us as a team what we can go out there and accomplish."
WVU’s 17-6 victory ended a four-game skid and provided the only bright spot in its rough five-game road stand.
"That was a bad road trip," said West Virginia head coach Greg Van Zant. "We went five days away from home and scored seven runs, I got food poisoning and the bus broke down. It doesn’t get any worse than that. We had Rutgers beat – we needed two more outs to win that game, but that’s baseball."
Pitt also enters the weekend coming off a win over Akron.
The Panthers, however, needed a ninth-inning walk off home run from sophomore outfielder Casey Roche to secure the 3-2 home victory Wednesday at the Petersen Sports Complex.
Roche is one of four Panthers hitting more than .320 on the season.
Senior first baseman Rick Devereaux has paced Pitt hitting .357 with 40 RBIs and 84 total bases on the year.
Another senior third baseman Anthony DeFabio has hit .349 while pacing the Panthers with 15 doubles, eight stolen bases and 39 runs scored.
For WVU, it has been redshirt sophomore left fielder Matt Frazer leading the offensive charge.
The Alum Creek, W.Va. native has batted a team-high .318 thus far to go along with a .561 slugging percentage, 17 doubles and five home runs.
RBI leader McBroom has hit .301 on the year while driving in 30 runs with a team-high 43 hits.
Facing Frazer, McBroom and company will likely be sophomore right-hander Matt Wotherspoon.
The Mountain Top, Pa., native is 3-1 with a 4.68 earned run average and leads Pitt in both strikeouts (53) and walks (24).
Both squads currently tie for tenth place in the Big East, fighting to move into the top eight to qualify for the Big East Tournament.
"This is a pivotal series for us," Van Zant said. "If we’re going to have a chance to get to the playoffs, this is a must win series, no question, and it’s the same for Pittsburgh."
This weekend, the Mountaineers will look to build off the momentum from their offensive outburst against Akron against their bitter rival.
"Baseball is a hot and cold type of game. If you start playing hot and start winning games, anything can happen," McBroom said. "It’s always a big rivalry. No matter what sport it is, you always want to beat Pitt."