Baseball: USF Shuts Down Mountaineers
By Steve Stone for MSNsportsNET.com
TAMPA, FLA. – The West Virginia University baseball team lost to USF in game one, 8-3, on Friday evening at Red McEwen Field in Tampa, Fla.
WVU’s loss compounded with Louisville’s 8-7 victory over Notre Dame puts the Mountaineers (28-10, 11-5) in third place in the BIG EAST. Starter Jarryd Summers took the loss after giving up seven runs, including five earned, on nine hits with five strikeouts.
The Sharpsville, Pa., native also tossed 122 pitches and was plagued by a critical four-run inning in the third that was highlighted by a two-run home run by Todd Brazeal, the first round-tripper Summers has given up since facing Siena on March 13.
USF’s Randy Fontanez (5-3) earned the complete game victory, giving up three runs on eight hits with six strikeouts. Fontanez is the third consecutive pitcher who has gone the distance against WVU, as Brian Dupra and Eric Maust also garnered complete-game wins against the Mountaineers.
WVU used five pitchers on the evening, with Jonathan Jones, Justin Ellis, Andrew Saab and Andy Podolinski pitching in relief. The four relievers combined to give up one run in 1.2 innings while scattering two hits.
The Mountaineers could not hit consistently with runners in scoring position, leaving seven runners on base throughout the contest. WVU tallied eight hits overall, tying for its second-lowest total of the season.
Vince Belnome provided the offense for WVU with a three-run double to increase his RBI total to 59, which leads the BIG EAST. The Coatesville, Pa., native went 2-for-4 with three RBIs to pace WVU at the plate. Austin Markel was the other Mountaineer to produce multiple hits, going 2-for-4 with a double in his first game back after suffering a severe ankle sprain prior to last weekend’s series against Notre Dame.
The Bulls (25-15, 13-3) scored the game’s first run on an RBI groundout by Jonathan Koscso in the first inning. Leadoff batter Ryan Lockwood hit a double to the left center gap, then stole third before Koscso grounded out to Belnome at second base to drive in Lockwood.
USF tacked on four more runs in the third inning, all with two outs. Koscso hit a triple to left field and scored on Stephen Hunt’s run-scoring single up the middle. Brazeal followed with a two-run home run to left center, making it 4-0. Belnome then misplayed a tough chopper at second base to bring in another run, giving USF the 5-0 advantage.
Belnome responded with a three-run double to left center in the fifth to cut WVU’s deficit to 5-3. Joe Agreste started the inning off with a walk, and three batters later Dan DiBartolomeo laced a single through the left side to put Agreste in scoring position. Jedd Gyorko’s walk loaded the bases for Belnome, who hit his 20th double of the season.
Koscso contributed with another key RBI in the seventh, grounding out to third base to bring in Peter Brotons for an insurance run to make it 6-3. Hunt followed with a run-scoring single up the middle, and Ryan Lockwood hit a run-scoring single in the eighth to give the Bulls an 8-3 advantage.
WVU will attempt to be the first BIG EAST squad to defeat USF at Red McEwen Field on Saturday. The Bulls are 7-0 in conference play at home.
First pitch for game two is at 7 p.m.