The Mountain East Conference baseball tournament kicks off on Thursday at Epling Stadium in Beckley and West Virginia State and the University of Charleston will be two of the six teams competing for a conference title.
West Virginia State (28-7 overall, 24-4 MEC) earned the No. 1 seed from the South Division while Charleston (30-6, 24-4) is the No. 2 seed from the South. WVSU and UC shared the South Division title, with the Yellow Jackets holding the tiebreaker for seeding purposes in the tournament. Concord clinched a spot in the tournament on the final day of the regular season.
West Virginia State coach Sean Loyd said he likes what he saw from his team in the regular season and has confidence going into the tournament.
“We played very consistently during the regular season,” Loyd said. “We got good pitching, good hitting, good fielding almost the whole regular season. It’s been a team effort for us and we’re really excited to have the opportunity to go to Beckley and play for a championship.”
UC coach Robbie Britt has the same level of confidence after his team’s stellar regular season.
“It’s been a really fun group to work with,” Britt said. “They’re a mature group and they’re extremely competitive. That’s why we’ve had the success that we’ve had during the regular season.”
West Virginia State is scheduled to open the four-day tournament at noon Thursday against Alderson Broaddus (17-17, 16-15, seeded No. 3 from the South Division).
“We played Alderson Broaddus the first conference weekend,” Loyd said. “I’m sure a lot has changed with [coach Matt Yurish’s] team since then but we played two really close games that came right down to the last couple innings. He’s a good coach. He knows what he’s doing, they’ve got good players. We’re gonna have our hands full.”
Charleston is set to take on the No. 2 seed from the North, West Liberty (20-18, 18-13), at 7 p.m.
“[West Liberty] Coach [Eric] Burkle has done a really good job with them this year and, offensively, I think they’ll be similar to us,” Britt said. “On the mound they’ve got three starters that could start for a lot of teams in the league. Whichever one we see [Thursday], they’re gonna give them a chance to win.”
WVSU and UC posted solid overall numbers during the regular season. The Yellow Jackets hit .294 as a team with an OPS of .851. On the mound, WVSU has a team ERA of 3.82 with a WHIP of 1.35.
UC had a team batting average of .340 with an OPS of .971. UC pitching was equally dominant as opponents hit .189 against the Golden Eagles. UC’s team ERA is 3.40 with a WHIP of 1.13.
The Yellow Jackets and Golden Eagles did not meet during the regular season after their scheduled four-game series was canceled last weekend due to COVID-19 protocols invoked by West Virginia State University.
Thursday’s other opening-round game is Wheeling (27-12, 22-9, North No. 1 seed) vs. Concord (15-21, 14-18, South No. 3 seed) at 4 p.m.