Baseball: Rough Start Downs WVU
By Steve Stone for MSNsportsNET.com
TAMPA, FLA. - Six runs given up in the first two innings put the West Virginia University baseball team in an early bind as it fell to BIG EAST leader USF, 11-2, on Saturday evening at Red McEwen Field in Tampa, Fla.
The Mountaineers (28-11, 11-6) fall into a third-place tie in the BIG EAST with St. John’s, but hold the tiebreaker after defeating the Red Storm in two of three games at Hawley Field.
USF right-hander Derrick Stultz (5-1) earned the victory after giving up two runs on six hits in eight innings pitched. He received plenty support from an offense that recorded 18 hits overall, tied for the most that WVU has given up in 2009.
WVU starter Billy Gross (5-4) took the loss after giving up nine runs on 15 hits in 4.2 innings. The right-hander from Frederick, Md., did not allow a hit to three of his four leadoff hitters, but was unable to throw his offspeed pitches effectively and finished the outing with no strikeouts against a high-contact Bulls (26-15, 14-3) squad.
WVU used four pitchers overall, as Jesse Darby, Justin Ellis and Andy Podolinski allowed just two runs combined in relief. Darby entered the game with two outs in the fifth and struck out USF’s Stephen Hunt looking. Ellis and Podolinski combined to give up one run on two hits in three innings pitched.
Dan DiBartolomeo led the Mountaineers with two hits, including his 14th double of the season. The Margate, N.J., native is among the conference leaders with a .430 batting average.
WVU began the game well by scoring one run in the first inning. Justin Parks led off with a single through the left side, and Austin Markel followed with a single to right field to advance Parks to third base. Jedd Gyorko hit a sacrifice fly to right field to bring in Parks, making it 1-0.
USF responded with a run of its own in the bottom half, as Todd Brazeal hit an RBI groundout to tie the game at 1-1.
The Bulls hit six singles in the second inning to propel their five-run outburst. Peter Brotons hit an RBI single up the middle, and Ryan Lockwood followed with another run-scoring hit up the middle to give USF a 3-1 advantage. Jonathan Koscso added an RBI single, and Brazeal finished the scoring with an RBI of his own to extend USF’s lead to 6-1.
In the fifth, Brotons added a run-scoring single and Lockwood followed with a triple down the first base line to bring in another run. WVU countered with a run in the sixth inning on a run-scoring groundout by Vince Belnome, who tallied his conference-leading 60th RBI of the season.
USF came back in the sixth with an RBI double to center field by Trey Manz to give the Bulls a 10-2 lead. Junior Carlin then sliced an opposite-field single to left field to make it 11-2.
The Mountaineers will try to salvage their three-game set on Sunday when they face USF at 1 p.m. at Red McEwen Field.