Baseball: WVU Defeats Northwestern
By Steve Stone for MSNsportsNET.com
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Two home runs by Austin Markel and a crucial three-run double by Dan DiBartolomeo powered the West Virginia University baseball team to a 10-5 victory over Northwestern on Monday afternoon in Clearwater, Fla.
The combination of good pitching and timely hitting aided the Mountaineers (2-2), who finish their four-game Big Ten stretch with a .500 record. Making his first collegiate start, freshman left-hander Jonathan Jones (1-0) earned the win after giving up three runs on five hits in five innings pitched.
The southpaw took advantage of his accuracy, throwing plenty of strikes to induce several opportunities for the field. Jones got himself out of many potential jams, including a key double play by Northwestern leadoff batter Kenneth Avila to end the fifth inning.
Coming out of the bullpen was junior right-hander Andy Altemus, who also made his first appearance. The Morgantown resident pitched the final four innings, giving up only one earned run on eight hits to get his first collegiate save.
Altemus was valuable in stemming the Wildcats’ (1-3) rally in the sixth inning, inducing a critical double play to curb Northwestern’s three-run inning.
Northwestern starter Joe Muraski (0-1) took the loss after giving up four runs on five hits in five innings. The Wildcats used four pitchers overall, with each giving up at least one earned run.
WVU tallied 14 hits and used a four-run ninth inning to put the game out of reach. Markel, already with one solo blast in the third inning, connected on a 3-1 fastball in the final frame to give the Mountaineers a 7-4 advantage. The senior finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with two RBIs.
DiBartolomeo added more insurance runs when he hit a three-run double down the left field line to clear the loaded bases in the ninth. The third baseman went 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
Shortstop Jedd Gyorko had another fine performance. The Morgantown native went 3-for-5 with two runs scored. Designated hitter Justin Ellis added two hits and two RBIs.
WVU avoided trouble in the first inning, as starter Jones was faced with two runners in scoring position and one out. However, Jones struck out Tony Vercelli looking and forced a flyout to right field from No. 5 batter Chris Lashmet.
With the Mountaineers needing an offensive spark, Markel came through in the top of the third. The Elizabethville, Pa., hit a two-out, solo home run over the right field wall to give WVU an early 1-0 lead.
Northwestern got on the board in the bottom of the inning. With runners on first and second and no outs, Tommy Finn laid down a sacrifice bunt to put Quentin Williams on third base. No. 3 batter Jake Goebbert followed with a sacrifice fly to center field, tying the game at 1-1.
Similar to their first three games, the Mountaineers generated more offense with two outs in the fourth inning. With Tobias Streich on second base, right fielder Grant Buckner swung at a first-pitch fastball, driving it into right center for a run-scoring single. Ellis followed with an RBI bloop single into right field, making it 3-1.
WVU added a run in the fifth inning. Gyorko started the scoring with a double at the center field wall. After advancing to third base on a wild pitch, the Morgantown native scored on a sacrifice fly from Vince Belnome.
Ellis added his second RBI of the day on a single to center field, plating DiBartolomeo to give WVU a 5-1 advantage. DiBartolomeo hit a key double to right field with two outs to keep the scoring opportunity alive.
Northwestern’s three runs in the sixth cut the WVU lead to 5-4. Goebbert hit a two-run homer to right center field, and catcher Chad Noble followed with a sacrifice fly to keep the game close.
WVU returns to the Baseball at the Beach Tournament this weekend. The Mountaineers begin their run with a doubleheader on Friday, Feb. 27, against preseason-ranked Tennessee and Coastal Carolina. WVU plays the Volunteers at noon in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and follow with the Chanticleers.