Mountaineers Fall to Rutgers
By Steve Stone for MSNsportsNET.com
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The West Virginia University baseball team gave up four key runs in the eighth inning to fall to Rutgers, 12-7, on Saturday afternoon at Hawley Field.
Trailing 8-6 entering the bottom of the seventh, Grant Buckner hit an RBI double off the wall in right center field that scored Dan DiBartolomeo, but Tobias Streich was subsequently thrown out at home plate on a relay throw from shortstop Dan Betteridge to put WVU at a one-run deficit.
Rutgers broke open the contest in the eighth on a triple by Brandon Boykin. Michael Lang then put down a bunt to first baseman Joe Agreste, whose toss to home plate was not in time as Boykin crossed the plate. Jarred Jimenez then hit a two-run single to center field to give the Scarlet Knights (18-27, 5-15) a five-run cushion.
Justin Parks helped bring WVU back with a bunt single down the third base line that scored Colin Durborow from second base. Parks hustled out of the box as Rutgers third baseman Russ Hopkins overthrew his intended target at first base to advance Parks to second and Durborow to home to make it 12-8.
DiBartolomeo, Buckner, Durborow and Austin Markel each recorded two hits apiece to lead the Mountaineers (30-14, 12-8). DiBartolomeo hit two doubles that landed off the walls in left field and right center, and Markel hit his 12th home run of the season in the fourth to spark WVU.
The Mountaineers recorded 12 hits on the afternoon, giving them their 34th double-digit effort in 2009. WVU is just 1-2 this season when it records the same amount of hits as its opponents, with Rutgers also tallying 12 hits.
Left-handed starter Chase Pickering (2-2) took the loss in his fourth start this season. The Cross Lanes, W.Va., native racked up five strikeouts in just 2.2 innings, but ran into trouble in the third inning as Rutgers put up three runs on an RBI single from Betteridge and a two-run double down the left field line by Jimenez.
Casey Gaynor (2-7) got the victory for the Scarlet Knights after giving up five runs, with two earned, on eight hits in six innings pitched. Reliever Jason Downey surrendered two runs in two innings, but Ryan Beard closed out the contest by not giving up a hit in the final inning.
For the second straight game, Rutgers struck first at the plate. With a runner on first base, cleanup batter Jaren Matthews hit a towering home run on a 1-1 curve ball to give Rutgers a 2-0 advantage.
A well-placed bunt single down the third base line by Agreste brought in WVU's first run, making it 2-1. Colin Durborow followed with another bunt single, and two batters later Markel hit a run-scoring infield single with the bases loaded. Durborow then scored on a passed ball to give the Mountaineers a 3-2 lead through two innings.
Rutgers notched two runs in the fourth courtesy of Betteridge’s two-run single through the left side to make it 7-4. Markel responded with a home run to left field in the bottom half on a 2-1 offering from Gaynor.
A game-changing play by Rutgers occurred in the sixth inning. With one out and Boykin at first base, Lang put down a bunt while Boykin attempted to steal second base. Boykin advanced to third base on the sacrifice attempt, then scored on the same play after home plate was uncovered to make it 8-5.
The Mountaineers return to Hawley Field on Sunday afternoon in the rubber game of the series. First pitch has been pushed up to noon due to the threat of inclement weather.