By Steve Stone for MSNsportsNET.com
April 26, 2009
TAMPA – The West Virginia University baseball team fell to USF, 9-6, in the third and final game of the series on Sunday afternoon at Red McEwen Field in Tampa, Fla.
The loss gives the Mountaineers (28-12, 11-7) their first conference series sweep by defeat this season, as they have lost five straight BIG EAST games.
Grant Buckner led WVU with two hits and three RBIs, including a solo home run in the eighth inning.
USF starter Shawn Sanford (4-2) pitched six innings and gave up five runs on seven hits with three strikeouts to get the victory.
USF got on the scoreboard in the second inning on a sacrifice fly to right field by Daniel Rockhold. Chris Rey started the inning with a single to right field, Junior Carlin followed with a hit-by-pitch and Sam Mende hit a bloop single through the left side to load the bases. Rockhold swung at a first-pitch fastball to drive in the game’s first run.
Justin Parks came back with an RBI single to center field to tie the game at 1-1. Joe Agreste led off with an infield single to the right side, but was thrown out at second base on a fielder’s choice by Colin Durborow. Parks followed with his 32nd RBI, scoring Durborow from second base.
The Bulls (27-15, 15-3) added two runs in the third inning. With one out, Todd Brazeal walked to put runners on first and second base, and Rey hit a bloop single into right field. Carlin followed with a customary opposite-field hit to left field to make it 3-1.
WVU was aided in the fourth inning on a fielding error by right fielder Stephen Hunt, who dropped a slicing hit by Buckner that brought in a hustling Tobias Streich from first base to make it 3-2.
Mende provided a key hit in USF’s three-run fifth inning, hitting a two-out, two-run single through the right side to give the Bulls a commanding 6-2 advantage. Brazeal started the frame with a run-scoring single through the right side.
WVU began to agitate Sanford in the sixth, responding with three runs to trim its deficit to 6-5. Buckner hit a chopping double over the third baseman’s head to score both Vince Belnome and Dan DiBartolomeo, and two batters later Durborow had a run-scoring double that also took a hop out of the infield to give him his seventh RBI of the season.
The Bulls broke open the game with three runs in the seventh. Carlin led off with a triple to center field, and Mende followed with an RBI single off WVU pitcher Andy Altemus. A wild pitch ensued to score Mende from third base, and Jonathan Koscso hit a run-scoring double to extend USF’s lead to 9-5.
Mountaineer left-hander Chase Pickering (2-1) made his first career BIG EAST start, going 2.2 innings and giving up three runs on four hits with one strikeout in a losing effort. The 2008 West Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year held the Bulls scoreless in the top inning for the first time this series, but was hurt by throwing a high number of pitches in less than three frames.
Chris Enourato, Altemus and Jonathan Jones made relief appearances for the Mountaineers.
WVU returns with two nonconference home games against Morehead State on Tuesday, April 28, at 7:05 p.m., followed by a matchup against Atlantic Coast Conference rival Maryland on Wednesday at 5 p.m.