West Virginia baseball looks to close in on Big 12 lead, NCAA Regional 1-seed during road series at Cincinnati

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West Virginia University baseball hopes to further their aspirations to secure a conference championship and an opportunity to host an NCAA Regional as they prepare for another Big 12 road series.

The Mountaineers (27-16, 14-7) are set for a weekend clash with a historical conference rival in Cincinnati (25-20, 11-10). It will be the first meeting between the two programs in 13 years -- the opponents last met on the diamond as members of the Big East Conference in May 2011. WVU narrowly leads the all-time series 18-17, but the Bearcats own a 10-6 advantage in their home stadium.

The Mountaineers are entering behind the momentum of completing a season sweep of Pittsburgh in the Backyard Brawl with an 11-1 at PNC Park on Tuesday. During that rivalry affair, West Virginia native and WVU first baseman Grant Hussey blasted a pair of homers out of the park en route to securing the program’s all-time home run record with 36 total.

WVU can drastically improve their shot at a conference title and a top seed in the Big 12 Tournament this weekend with a strong performance. They enter one game behind current conference leader Oklahoma, tied with Oklahoma State for second-place in the league standings. Oklahoma is set for a weekend series against fourth-place Texas -- meanwhile Oklahoma State will face Texas Tech, who has the second-most overall wins and third-best overall winning percentage this season amongst conference teams.

The Mountaineers are also certainly hoping to impress enough during the final month of the season to earn the opportunity to bring the NCAA Regional back to Morgantown -- to host they will need to be one of the Top 16 seeds in the 64-team field. In the last D1 Baseball forecast for the postseason field, WVU is projected as a No. 2 seed in a potential Knoxville region hosted by Tennessee. That puts them between the 17th and 32nd overall seed currently.

WVU will face Cincinnati at UC Baseball Stadium -- first pitch on Friday is set for 5 p.m., Saturday for 3 p.m., and Sunday for 1 p.m. Fans looking to watch the action live will be able to find a television stream of all three games on Big 12 Now on ESPN, and an audio stream will be available via the Mountaineers Sports Network radio affiliates, the Varsity Network, the WVU Gameday App, and WVUSports.com.