By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
College baseball is back in Beckley.
Fairmont State and Davis & Elkins will play a pair of doubleheaders Sunday and Monday at Linda K. Epling Stadium. The first will start at 1 p.m. Sunday, with the second set for a noon start on Monday.
Before that, however, two Pennsylvania teams will travel to Beckley to begin their seasons. La Roche College and Waynesburg University will play a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. today.
The teams will also meet at 5 p.m. Saturday.
La Roche coach Chase Rowe contacted Tim Epling about moving the games here because the relentless winter has rendered most grass fields unplayable. A former camp instructor at Slippery Rock University, Rowe heard of Epling Stadium and its all-turf field through his relationship with a former Prospect League team, the Slippery Rock Sliders.
La Roche has many former PL players on its roster, including all-star left-handed pitcher Tyler Ferguson.
The Fairmont/D&E games, which will serve as the season opener for both teams, were originally scheduled to be played in a tournament at King College in Bristol, Tenn., but were moved because of weather.
Fairmont was fifth in the inaugural Mountain East Conference preseason poll, while Davis & Elkins came in fourth in preseason Great Midwest Athletic Conference voting. The Senators joined the G-MAC after the West Virginia Conference was disbanded last year and most of its members formed the MEC.
Area baseball fans will recognize some of the names on the Fairmont roster.
Junior pitcher Corey Lilly is a Shady Spring alumnus and one of 16 returning lettermen for the Falcons. He was 4-3 with a 5.54 earned run average last season and made 12 appearances, including nine starts.
Redshirt sophomore Chase Fitzwater is a former three-sport star at Greenbrier West. He made four relief appearances last season and also scored three runs as a pinch-runner.
True freshman Hunter Greco was a Class AAA first-team all-stater last season after hitting .449 with 12 doubles and 24 runs batted in, while also amassing a 6-2 record and 1.47 ERA for Woodrow Wilson. He helped lead the Flying Eagles to their first state tournament appearance since 2007.
This weekend will be the start of another busy spring and summer at Epling Stadium. The Upper Deck Middle School League will start next month, and a full slate of high school scrimmages is scheduled for March 14-15. Also, Marshall will host a Conference USA series against Florida Atlantic the weekend of April 4-6, and the first-ever MEC Tournament will be played at the stadium in May.
That all leads up to the summer, when Beckley Post 32 will call Epling Stadium home, and the two-time defending Prospect League champion West Virginia Miners will play their first home game on Saturday, May 31, against league newcomer Champion City.
— E-mail: gfauber
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