The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

March 4, 2013

Miners to open 2013 at home vs. Sliders

BECKLEY — The West Virginia Miners’ defense of their first Prospect League championship will start on their home turf.

Just like last year, the Miners will start the 2013 season at Linda K. Epling Stadium in Beckley, Tuesday, May 28, against the Slippery Rock Sliders. The two-game series will open a season the team can only hope is as memorable as last summer.

The schedule looks much the same as it did last year, when the Miners cruised to the league’s best record and swept Dubois County in the league championship series for their first title in just three seasons of existence.

Teams will play only teams from their own division, and most Mondays will be off days. The only Monday game dates are July 8 and 15.

The biggest difference this season is in the playoff format. The league has done away with the concept of dividing the 60-game season into two halves.

Part of the reason for abandoning that format is because Dubois County is no longer in the league. That left things unbalanced — six teams in the East Division and five in the West — and affected scheduling to the point that it delayed release of the schedule by several weeks.

“I like the split season,” said Miners manager Tim Epling, “but this year there were some changes that had to be made, and the (league) ownership voted that we do away with it. We’ll see what happens.”

In the past, the division winners of the first half hosted the second-half winners in a one-game playoff, with the winners meeting for the league title. This year, each division winner will have homefield advantage in a best-of-3 series Aug. 6-8 against the second-place finisher.

The winners of those series will meet in the league championship series, also best-of-3, Aug. 10-13.

In 2012, homefield advantage for the series was determined by which division won the All-Star game. This year, the team with the best overall record gets the advantage.

“I like that better,” Epling said.

All weekday home games will start at 7:05 p.m. Sunday home games will have a 5:05 p.m. first pitch.

There are five Sunday home games, and the Miners will be home Wednesday, July 3, for their annual pre-Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza.

Individual game promotions are in the works, Epling said, and the Miners are in no shortage for support.

“The difference between this year and previous seasons is we’re having so many people call us, wanting to partner up with us,” he said. “Since we’ve got our schedule now, we’ve got about 30 days to put our promotions together.”

Miners fans will notice an addition to the stadium this year. Banners commemorating the Miners’ championships, including the 2012 league title, will adorn the venue before opening day.

Individual game ticket prices remain unchanged — $8.50 for chairback and $6.50 for bleachers. Season ticket prices are also the same — $200 for chairback and $150 for bleachers.

Tickets can be ordered online at wvminersbaseball.com or by calling 304-252-SAFE (7233).

— E-mail: gfauber@

register-herald.com

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