By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
The Friends of Coal Bowl may be dead, but the state’s two biggest universities will meet in baseball next spring.
West Virginia and Marshall will play on three different dates at three different sites in 2013. Doug Epling confirmed Thursday that one of those sites will be Linda K. Epling Stadium in Beckley.
“We have agreed in principle for West Virginia and Marshall to play here,” Epling said. “The contracts have not been signed, but the game will be played.”
The other two games will be played at Hawley Field in Morgantown and Appalachian Power Park in Charleston.
Epling was unsure of the dates for those games, only that they are early in the season. Beckley’s game, however, is set for Tuesday, May 14. A time has not been decided, but Epling is hoping for a 7 p.m. start.
“We got the better date,” Epling said, noting the chance for better weather in late spring.
The teams have not played since 2008, Jeff Waggoner’s second season as the head coach at Marshall. The Thundering Herd scored two runs in the ninth inning, but the Mountaineers held on for a 5-3 win at the BB&T Coastal Tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Before that, Marshall and West Virginia had not played since 1998.
Marshall has played several games at Epling Stadium since its inception in 2010. Among the teams the Herd have faced in Beckley include St. Bonaventure, Georgia Southern and Liberty.
Along with the West Virginia game, the Herd will host East Carolina, their first Conference USA series at Epling Stadium. Marshall currently plays its home C-USA games at Appalachian Power Park.
West Virginia, which hopes to have a new stadium for use in 2014, has never played in Beckley. New coach Randy Mazey visited the stadium in July for a West Virginia Miners game and came away impressed.
Epling also said the door remains open for the Mountaineers to host a Big 12 series in Epling Stadium. WVU, of course, joined the conference in July and the league is one of the best in college baseball, with the likes of Texas and Oklahoma.
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