Tough to Hit

By Christopher Marshall for MSNsportsNET.com
April 25, 2008


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia began the game with seven consecutive hits and scored seven runs in the top of the first inning to cruise past Connecticut, 10-1 in the series opener Friday night at Hawley Field.

  Josh Whitlock ran his record to 7-3 with seven strong innings Friday night against Connecticut.
All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks photo

After Justin Parks began the game with an infield single and advanced to third on errant pick off attempt by Connecticut pitcher John Folino, Tyler Kuhn drove in Parks with a single up the middle. Jedd Gyorko laced another single up the middle to move Kuhn to second and then Vince Belnome brought them both home with a two-run double to the left center field gap to make it 3-0.

Joe Agreste’s RBI single to left scored Belnome and Dan DiBartolomeo’s fielder’s choice plated Austin Markel to make it 5-0 in favor of the Gold and Blue. Kuhn finished the scoring in the first with a two-run double right field, platuing DiBartolomeo and Jordan Yost.

“The first inning is the biggest inning. The most runs are scored in the first inning at all levels of baseball because a lot of times the pitcher hasn’t gotten into a groove yet,” West Virginia Coach Greg Van Zant said. “You’ve got to give our hitters credit. We had the opportunities and we jumped all over them.”

West Virginia starter Josh Whitlock took advantage of the early support, throwing a gem for seven innings. The Given, W.Va. native, gave up just one earned run off a season-low two hits, while walking five and striking out four to improve his record to a staff-best 7-3.

“He really stepped up for us tonight. That is the outing we needed out of Josh,” Van Zant said. “He brought his ‘A’ game and pitched like he is capable of. He gives us a chance to win any time he takes the mound.”

The Mountaineers (30-11, 9-7) added three more runs in the eighth off Husky reliever Erik Turgeon. Tobias Streich got things started with a double over the center fielder’s head. After a Parks walk, Kuhn drilled a two-run double to center. Gyorko followed with an RBI double to right to make it 10-1.

Kuhn led West Virginia at the plate, going 3 for 5 with a team-best five RBIs. Gyorko also went 3 for 5 with an RBI while Belnome added two RBIs on a night when the Mountaineers pounded out 15 hits.

Connecticut starter John Folino (3-4) takes the loss for the Huskies after giving up seven runs off 12 hits while walking one and striking out four in seven innings of work. To his credit, he scattered five hits and allowed no runs over his final six innings of work.

“He never got rattled and he was pretty daggone good after the first inning so it’s a good things we got our runs when we did,” Van Zant said.

Connecticut drops to 21-22, 7-12.

The series resumes tomorrow at Hawley Field with the first pitch of game two slated for 3 p.m.

“It will be a dogfight tomorrow and Sunday. We will come back tomorrow and start out 0-0,” Van Zant said. “That’s the beauty of baseball. Today the win is in the books but tomorrow it starts all over and we have to come back out and try to do it again.”