An easily heard “Let’s go … Mountaineers!” chant could be heard inside Pitt’s Charles L. Cost Field Wednesday evening. With an announced attendance of just 642 fans, it appeared that at least half of the paid spectators were sporting WVU attire.
A noticeable contingent of West Virginia fans made the journey up I-79 to watch the 12th-ranked Mountaineers take down Pitt to sweep the Backyard Brawl series. WVU players were asked for autographs repeatedly before the game, which took place more than 70 miles from their home campus.
The Mountaineers won all three games against their bitter rival this year and, arguably, did so with more fans in the stands for each contest.
“It really is awesome coming up to the Backyard Brawl and seeing more West Virginia fans than Pitt fans,” right fielder Caleb McNeely said. “West Virginia fans want to be here more than they do. And it’s a further drive. It’s awesome. It really is awesome.”
When closer Carlson Reed struck out Justin Acal to seal the 9-8 victory, the cheers of WVU fans rang louder than the sighs of those siding with the home team.
The notion of more West Virginia fans being in attendance than Pitt fans wasn’t lost on the players on the field.
“I think it might’ve been the ump, but I was like, gosh, I feel kind of bad,” sophomore sensation JJ Wetherholt said following a 3-for-4 performance at the plate, and a highlight play in the field. “This is the third game, and we have the home-field advantage all three games, and we were home for one of them.”
In the previous meeting between the two teams on May 3, WVU fans set the program’s regular-season single-game attendance record of 4,070 spectators. Two weeks earlier, on April 19 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, roughly half of the 2,052 fans inside the MLB ballpark were cheering for the Mountaineers.
Within the group of WVU supporters on-hand Wednesday night were friends and family of Wetherholt, who grew up just 33 minutes north of Pitt’s ballpark.
“I know some of my friends, they really don’t get to come watch me a lot, but thankfully they were able to just because this is close to home,” said Wetherholt. “It definitely meant a little bit more today. I wanted to play well.”
West Virginia fans have supported Mazey’s Crazies well all season long. Mountaineer Nation recently broke the program’s all-time single-game home attendance record three days after setting the regular-season mark against the Panthers. Skipper Randy Mazey has noted the support of his team, both at home and on the road, throughout this season.
Mountaineer Nation has just three more chances to watch this team at home during the regular season. Those chances all come this weekend, beginning at 4 p.m. ET on Friday, against visiting Texas Tech.
However, according to the latest projections from D1Baseball.com, WVU fans will have chances to pack The Mon during the NCAA Tournament, at least for the Regional round.