MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Marked by bare-bones dugouts, temporary metal bleachers and a few port-a-potties, Hawley Field is the stripped-down step-child of Big 12 ballparks.
Yet Harrison Musgrave can’t wait to pitch there Friday.
When No. 18 Oklahoma State (23-10, 5-4) arrives Friday to begin a three-game set, it will represent a snippet of history for WVU’s decidedly unadorned campus ballpark, now in its 44th and final season.
As West Virginia awaits completion of a new $20 million baseball stadium in 2015, Musgrave and the Mountaineers are enthused about finally hosting a Big 12 series in Morgantown—and relieved not to be making a three-hour bus ride to Charleston.
“I’m not a fan of sitting in buses,” joked Musgrave, who’s slated to start the opener. “If we can play here, I think we should.
“I’m a fan of Hawley. I know people don’t like it or whatever … but you can get 2,000 people and it feels like a lot. You can really feel the energy.”
Baseball: Oklahoma State (23-10, 5-4) at WVU (16-12, 2-3)
Series: Friday 6 p.m., Saturday 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m.
Game 1: Jon Perin (3-2) vs. WVU’s Harrison Musgrave (3-1)
While Musgrave owns a 1.96 ERA and ranks second in the Big 12 with 51 strikeouts, his 3-1 record would be markedly better if not for the bullpen blowing three potential victories.
“It’s been a tough road recently, but they’re not going out there trying to let up runs,” Musgrave said. “When I come out of the game, I have faith that they’ll hold the game. It hasn’t happened recently, but I trust them.”
One of those blown leads came last Friday when TCU rallied for a three-run ninth in a 4-3 walkoff win. That started a four-game slide that has WVU (16-12, 2-3) scuffling.
“We need to get back on the horse and get some wins,” said second baseman Billy Fleming, currently eighth in the league with a .345 average. “We have a lot of home games coming up and we want to see what we can do with a home-field advantage.”
The Mountaineers play 13 of their next 17 games at Hawley, hoping to secure a postseason spot in the Big 12 and NCAAs tournaments. Though Oklahoma State comes in ranked in the NCBWA Top 25, the Cowboys sport an RPI of 126 comported to West Virginia’s 24.
“We’re not out of this thing,” said Fleming. “We still have a great RPI. If we could get a series win or even a sweep that would be awesome.”
First baseman Ryan McBroom, whose 33 RBIs are second in the Big 12, is among four players tied for the league lead with six homers, a group that includes OSU’s Tanner Krietemier.
McBroom celebrated his birthday Wednesday, was named to the Golden Spikes watch list Thursday and plans to have about 10 family members in the bleachers this weekend.
“A lot of guys have family coming,” McBroom said. “It’s going to be a good atmosphere, especially playing Oklahoma State, the No. 18 team in the country. It’s going to be a great series against a great team.
“We went through a stint where we weren’t putting up enough runs, but that’s out of our system now. Harry’s going on the mound for us Friday, so I’m excited to get this thing going.”