Baseball: Late Runs Lift Mountaineers
By Steve Stone for MSNsportsNET.com
MOREHEAD, KY. – Dan DiBartolomeo’s tie-breaking grand slam in the eighth inning lifted the West Virginia University baseball team to a wild 13-9 victory over Morehead State on Tuesday afternoon at Allen Field in Morehead, Ky.
With two outs and the game knotted at 9-9, DiBartolomeo smacked a two-strike pitch that lined over the wall in right center to put the Mountaineers (12-5) up for good. The Margate, N.J., native has two round-trippers on the young season, already surpassing his total from 2008.
Reliever Chris Enourato (4-0) pitched effectively once again for WVU, earning the victory after throwing 2.2 innings and striking out five while giving up no runs. He entered the game in the bottom of the seventh with the Mountaineers down 9-8 and managed to fan both of his batters to get out of the inning unscathed.
WVU tallied 16 hits overall, led by Justin Parks’ 3-for-5 performance with two RBIs. Jedd Gyorko added two doubles, while Tobias Streich, DiBartolomeo, and Mark Dvorozonak recorded two hits apiece.
The Mountaineers battled back from two separate deficits, including a 5-0 hole in the first inning. WVU also fought back against the Eagles (6-11) when it faced a 9-8 deficit later in the contest.
Morehead State starter Kris Sipes (0-1) took the loss for the Eagles after giving up three earned runs on five hits in three innings pitched.
WVU put itself in a bind in the bottom of the first inning, committing three errors that led to four unearned runs. Starter Andy Altemus gave up singles to the first three Eagle hitters, then followed with a bases loaded hit-by-pitch to cleanup batter Michael Bottoms to bring in the game’s first run. An RBI infield single by Morehead State shortstop Travis Redmon gave the Eagles a 5-0 advantage at the end of the frame.
Despite the slow start, Altemus stayed poised throughout the contest. The junior college transfer from Morgantown did not allow another base hit until the fourth inning. In the third frame, he struck out the side by pinpointing his fastball on both the inside and outside corners to make life difficult for the Eagles.
Altemus went 6.1 innings and allowed five earned runs on 11 hits with seven strikeouts.
Grant Buckner started the Mountaineer scoring in the fourth inning. With two outs and runners on second and third, the Elkview, W.Va., native sat on a curve ball with two strikes and hit a ground-rule double to center field to bring in both runs, making it 5-2. Two batters later, Parks followed with a two-run double to left field, and Austin Markel’s fourth home run of the season, a two-run blast to right field, gave WVU a 6-5 lead in the fourth frame.
Morehead State responded in the bottom half, as Andrew Deeds hit a solo home run to left center to tie the game at 6-6. Altemus came back to strike out the next two batters, recording his fourth and fifth strikeouts against Daniel Pugh and Drew Lee, respectively.
With one out and both WVU runners in scoring positon, Eagles third baseman Redman let a sharp ground ball off the bat of Buckner slip through his legs, bringing in Streich and Joe Agreste to give WVU an 8-6 advantage. The scoring runners were set up nicely by DiBartolomeo’s previous sacrifice bunt down the third base line.
Pitching in a hitter-friendly ballpark down the outfield lines, Altemus served up a tying two-run home run to Lucas Bainer down the left field line, knotting the back-and-forth affair at 8-8 in the fifth inning. The Eagles then took a one-run lead in the sixth when Bottoms hit an RBI single through the left side to plate Pugh.
In the eighth inning, Vince Belnome drew a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch to tie the game at 9-9. DiBartolomeo’s go-ahead grand slam sealed the victory for WVU.
The Mountaineers begin BIG EAST play on Friday, March 20, with a three-game series at Connecticut. First pitch is set for 3 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. on Saturday. Sunday’s contest is scheduled to begin at noon.