Baseball: WVU Falls in Comeback Bid
By Steve Stone for MSNsportsNET.com
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Seven runs by St. John’s in the first two innings helped snap the West Virginia University baseball team’s eight-game winning streak as the Mountaineers fell, 10-5, on Friday evening at Hawley Field.
Trailing 7-2 after two frames, the Mountaineers (24-7, 9-2) made a valiant comeback effort but fell short as the Red Storm (19-11, 8-3) delivered two key insurance runs in the ninth to create the game’s final score at 10-5. WVU’s eight-game winning streak was tied for the third longest current streak entering tonight’s game.
WVU’s three errors proved costly throughout the contest, helping to keep innings alive as St. John’s capitalized on the Mountaineer miscues. Starter Jonathan Jones (4-1) suffered his first collegiate loss, giving up seven runs, including five earned, on six hits in 1.2 innings pitched.
Red Storm reliever Eddie Medina (5-1) took the win after replacing struggling starter Nick Luisi in the fifth. Medina gave up no runs on two hits in four innings, while Luisi gave up five earned runs in four innings on eight hits.
Entering the contest with a .369 team batting average, the Mountaineers still got production from their offense. WVU registered 10 hits overall, led by Dan DiBartolomeo’s 3-for-5 performance. Austin Markel hit his team-leading seventh home run, including his second in as many games, and Mark Dvoroznak contributed with two RBIs.
Junior Andy Altemus threw well in relief, giving up three earned runs in seven innings pitched while striking out two. Altemus threw 104 pitches and kept WVU in the game by throwing five scoreless innings.
The Red Storm started things off with a bases-loaded bunt single by Greg Hopkins to gain a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Joe Panik then singled through the left side to bring in two runs, and Gino Matias had an RBI groundout to second base.
WVU chipped away in the bottom half as Vince Belnome grounded into a fielder’s choice at shortstop to bring in a run. Down 7-1 in the second frame, Dvoroznak had an RBI groundout to first base to cut the Red Storm lead.
A two-run fourth inning was highlighted by Markel’s two-run home run to right field. Parks got on base by doubling down the left field line, and Markel lined a first-pitch fastball over the right field wall to trim WVU’s deficit to 8-4. Dvoroznak’s RBI groundout in the fifth plated DiBartolomeo to make it 8-5 with Joe Agreste in scoring position, but St. John’s third baseman Hopkins made a diving snag on a possible RBI double for Parks to end the scoring threat.
WVU’s final scoring opportunity came in the seventh. With two outs and Agreste on first base, Dvoroznak laced a well-placed double down the right field line. A hustling Agreste attempted to score on the play, but was thrown out and home by second baseman Matias on a cut-off to leave the Mountaineers scoreless for the frame.
The Mountaineers return for the rubber game of the series on Saturday, April 11, at 1 p.m. at Hawley Field. WVU starter Billy Gross (4-2) heads to the mound to face St. Johns’ Brendan Lobban (3-1).