MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — For the second year, Monongalia County Ballpark will be the home of some of the top teams in high school baseball rather than for WVU or the Black Bears.
The Mon County Classic will play host to six teams — including all four schools in Mon County — beginning Friday before wrapping up Saturday. Two defending state champions, Bridgeport (Class AA) and Moorefield (A) will also take the field as the prep baseball seasons begin to wind toward the postseason, which begins May 6.
When plans for the ballpark were announced in 2013, there were promises of other community events outside of WVU baseball and a professional minor league team. After the park opened in 2015, though, it took until May 2017 for the first high school game to be played there — a 7-2 win for University over Morgantown.
Momentum carried over into American Legion baseball as the first Wood Bat Classic was held a month later in June 2017. Finally, the first Mon County Classic was announced to be played in May 2018 with three games in one day involving MHS, UHS and Clay-Battelle.
Now, a year later, the classic evolved to host six games across two days — one of the premier high school baseball showcases in West Virginia.
“That was exactly the things — I talked with (Mon County Commissioner Sean) Sikora about how the field wasn’t being used for high school games,” said Don Robinson, executive vice president and chief financial officer at MVB, a title sponsor for the classic.
“I thought with the exposure we had last year, we could continue to grow this, and he and all of the county commissioners have been very supportive. We had teams contacting us wanting to play in this and we hope to continue to see growth over the years.”
The Mon County Commission approved a $6,000 funding request for the classic in February. Last year, the county approved a $5,500 request.
Robinson said they wanted to accomplish three goals — give high school athletes a chance to play on a bigger stage, drive business for local businesses and help SteppingStones with its Miracle League program.
A Miracle League exhibition will be played at 2 p.m. Saturday and while admission is free to all games, donations will be accepted to help SteppingStones with facility upgrades.
SteppingStones executive director “Monica Marietta does and them do great work up there, and we really want to help raise money for batting cages at their fields,” Robinson said.
The estimated cost of the event is just over $16,000, and while the county is supplying $6,000, local business and private donors made up the rest.
Every game will be streamed live by MetroNews at wvmetronews.com. Former Pirates play-by-play announcer Lanny Frattare will be on the call with Kyle Wiggs for first four games. Joe Brocato will join Wiggs for the final two games.
“We’ve got two defending state champions, as well as several highly ranked teams, including Morgantown, which is playing unreal baseball right now,” Robinson said. “We’ve got teams from all over the state, too, with Spring Valley from down south, George Washington from the Charleston area, Parkersburg Catholic and Ripley from the west and Moorefield from the Eastern Panhandle.
“This can become something really special for this community.”