By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
April 28, 2003
JAMIACA, N.Y. – Zac Cline pitched his second straight complete game and Jake Serfass went 4 for 5 to lead West Virginia to a 9-7 win over St. John’s Monday afternoon at The Ballpark.
West Virginia’s victory gave the Mountaineers (29-12, 12-3) the series against the Red Storm and kept them on pace with Notre Dame (13-2) and Rutgers (13-3) near the top of the Big East standings.
“Going two out of three and having Boston College lose to Seton Hall today is huge for us,” said West Virginia coach Greg Van Zant.
The Mountaineers are now four games up on Pitt and Virginia Tech in the loss column for third place, and five games up on St. John’s and Boston College in the loss column for fourth place. The top four teams to finish the regular season qualify for the Big East tournament.
Monday afternoon, West Virginia jumped out to an early 4-0 lead before St. John’s rallied with two outs in the bottom of the fifth.
Derek Sullivan led off the inning with a single to right and he advanced to second on a balk. Cline then got Billy Graiser and Brett Hardie to fly out before Mike Rosema singled in Sullivan to put the Red Storm on the board.
St. John’s benefited from Lee Fritz’ error in right to keep the inning alive, and the Red Storm responded by scoring four more runs. The big blast was a three-run homer to left by Anthony De Rosa, who went 3 for 5 with 4 RBI for the day.
Cline finished the inning by getting Greg Thomson out on strikes.
“The wind was blowing out and we misplayed a couple of fly balls that cost us some runs,” said Van Zant.
Trailing 5-4, West Virginia tied the game in the sixth when Travis D’Amico doubled to left to drive in Grant Psomas, who reached on a singled through the left side with one out.
West Virginia retook the lead in the seventh when Serfass clobbered a mammoth two-run blast that hit the right field foul pole.
“That was a big hit for us,” admitted Van Zant.
St. John’s tacked on another run in the bottom of the seventh to close the gap to 7-6 but West Virginia scored two runs in the top of the ninth to take a three-run lead into the final frame. Psomas got the big hit with an RBI double to right center to knock in Kurtis Clinton, who reached on a single up the middle.
In the bottom of the ninth, Cline got the first two outs before hitting Eddie Schultz. Blake Hershelman followed with a double to right center to score Schultz and present St. John’s with the tying run at the plate.
Cline finished off the Red Storm by getting DeRosa to fly out.
“Zac didn’t want to come out,” said Van Zant. “He really battled for us today.”
Cline pitched his second straight complete game and Van Zant says the extra day of rest due to Saturday’s rainout really helped his lefthander.
“He threw a lot of pitches today and it’s nice that he was able to get that extra day,” said Van Zant. “If he were pitching on Sunday we would have probably gone to the bullpen.”
West Virginia finished the afternoon with 18 hits, nine for extra bases. Eric Grimm also homered for the Mountaineers and finished the game 2 for 5. Jarod Rine, Stan Posluszny, Psomas, D’Amico and Clinton had two hits as well for WVU.
Hershelman joined DeRosa with three hits for St. John’s, which falls to 23-20, 9-8.
Cline finished the game giving up 13 hits and 7 runs, though just 3 were earned. He also struck out 7 and walked none to improve to 8-3.
“This was a tough series,” said Van Zant.
St. John’s Geno Orsogna pitched an inning of relief to take the loss.
West Virginia returns to action tomorrow at Ohio for a 3 p.m. single game. Lefthander Tino Medina is scheduled to pitch for the Mountaineers. U-92 will provide live Internet radio coverage.