Baseball: WVU Loses Two in Doubleheader
By Steve Stone for MSNsportsNET.com
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The West Virginia University baseball team was swept in its doubleheader against Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium.
The Mountaineers (28-9, 11-4) lost to Notre Dame in the first game, 8-6, and fell to the Fighting Irish (22-14, 8-7) in the second contest, 3-0. Notre Dame received complete-game victories from starters Brian Dupra (4-4) and Eric Maust (5-2).
WVU leaves South Bend, Ind., having lost two of three to Notre Dame, marking its first losing series in BIG EAST conference play. The Mountaineers entered the week having won four straight three-game conference sets over Connecticut, Villanova, Georgetown and St. John’s.
WVU’s two losses puts it at a ½ game behind conference leader USF, which lost to Villanova, 11-7, in the afternoon. The Bulls are now 11-3 in conference play.
The Mountaineers gave up 16 hits to the Fighting Irish in game one, tying for the third-most hits given up by WVU this season. Dupra earned the win after pitching a complete game while giving up six earned runs with three strikeouts.
Junior Andy Altemus (1-1) took the loss after giving up six earned runs on 15 hits in seven innings pitched.
Justin Parks led the Mountaineers with a 2-for-5 performance and two RBIs. The Columbus, Ohio, native hit a two-run home run to left field in the ninth inning to trim WVU’s deficit to 8-6.
Dan DiBartolomeo added two hits with two RBIs, and Tobias Streich contributed with two hits and one RBI.
Notre Dame took its first lead in the series off the bat of Cameron McConnell, who hit a two-out, RBI single to left field to give the Fighting Irish a 1-0 lead in the second inning.
The Fighting Irish added another run in the third inning. Golden Tate hit a chopping single through the right side, and used his speed to round the bases on a double down the left field line from Jeremy Barnes to increase Notre Dame’s lead to 2-0.
In the fourth, third baseman Matt Doyle hit his first home run of the season, a solo shot to left field, to advance the Irish lead to 3-0. Altemus proceeded to give up a single and eventually loaded the bases with two outs, but induced a groundout by Barnes to Jedd Gyorko at shortstop to get out of the inning without further damage.
David Casey led off the fifth with a double to the left center gap, and later scored from third base on a fielding error by right fielder Grant Buckner, who recorded a season-high eight putouts in game one on Friday. Two batters later McConnell singled through the left side, and A.J. Pollock hit a key two-run single to left field to make it 6-0.
WVU got on the scoreboard in the sixth as Parks led off with a double to right field, then scored on DiBartolomeo’s RBI double down the third base line. Vince Belnome then lined a 3-2 curveball into left field, and Streich hit a sharp double down the left field line to score DiBartolomeo and trim WVU’s deficit to 6-2. Buckner followed with an RBI groundout to the shortstop, but Joe Agreste ended the frame on a sharp lineout to right field to make it 6-3.
DiBartolomeo contributed with another RBI in the seventh on a two-out single to right field. Notre Dame responded in the bottom half with a slow-rolling single by Ryne Intlekofer that snuck through the left side to bring in a run, and Tate slapped a run-scoring single to left field to give Notre Dame an 8-4 advantage.
Buckner extended his hitting streak to 18 games in the eighth inning on a single through the left side in the first game of the afternoon, but went 0-for-3 in the second game to end his impressive stretch.
The Mountaineers were done in by hard luck during the second contest, routinely driving hard-hit pitches right into the hands of Notre Dame’s fielders. WVU produced a season-low five hits and were shut out for the first time in 2009.
Maust threw all nine innings and gave up just five hits on runs with two strikeouts. DiBartolomeo had another two-hit performance, and Belnome also added two hits. WVU did not record an extra-base hit for the first time this season, and went homerless for the first time since March 31 against Duquesne, ending an 11-game period in which it recorded at least one home run in every contest.
Billy Gross (5-3) took the loss, ending his five-start winning streak. Gross gave up three earned runs in five innings on seven hits and three strikeouts, falling behind early after yielding two runs to the Fighting Irish in the first inning. The Frederick, Md., native kept his poise and retired 11 of his next 17 batters by pinpointing his pitches in the strike zone and allowing his fielders to make a play.
Chris Enourato relieved Gross in the sixth and tossed three scoreless innings, striking out two while allowing no hits.
The Mountaineers return with a mid-week contest at Ohio on Wednesday, April 22. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.