Baseball: Gross Guides WVU Past Rutgers
By Steve Stone for MSNsportsNET.com
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Starter Billy Gross logged his third complete game of the season to guide the West Virginia University baseball team to a 9-3 victory over Rutgers in the rubber game of the series on Sunday afternoon at Hawley Field.
Gross (6-4) did not allow an extra base hit during the contest. The Frederick, Md., native gave up three runs on eight hits and struck out three in one of his finest performances of the season. Gross also threw 117 pitches in his quality start.
The right-hander had plenty of help from an offense that produced 14 hits, including two home runs and four doubles. The Mountaineers (31-14, 13-8) improve to 16-1 on the season when they hit at least two home runs, and are now 28-2 when they outhit the opposition.
Vince Belnome went 3-for-5 with four RBIs to raise his conference-leading total to 67, surpassing his RBI output from 2008. The Coatesville, Pa., native is now 15 RBIs shy of breaking the school record held by Mark Landers (81) in 1994.
Belnome also needs just two hits to reach 200 for his career at WVU, while Parks and Markel are tied at 195 on the career list. Just 11 players have garnered 200 or more base hits in school history.
Sophomore Jedd Gyorko went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored, while Parks and Markel also had multi-hit performances with two hits apiece. Parks, Markel, Gyorko and Belnome - WVU’s 1-4 hitters-combined to go 10-for-18 with seven RBIs and six runs scored.
WVU’s important victory keeps it at fourth place in the BIG EAST, as the Mountaineers look to lock up a top four seed in the first round of the conference tournament. WVU is two games in front of fifth-place Cincinnati and one game behind third-place St. John’s, which it defeated in two of three games on April 9-11.
WVU scored first in the opening inning on a line drive RBI single to center field by Belnome. With two outs, Gyorko reached first on an error and then advanced to second base, setting up Belnome for the run-scoring hit.
Jayson Hernandez came back with an RBI single in the second inning for Rutgers, a sharp infield shot that hit off the leg of Dan DiBartolomeo at third base.
Four runs were scored by the Mountaineers on five hits in the second frame. Colin Durborow hit a 1-2 pitch into the left center gap to bring in Joe Agreste, and Parks hit a run-scoring single up the middle to make it 3-1. Two batters later, Gyorko hit a sacrifice fly to right field, and Belnome hit another run-scoring single to give WVU a 5-1 lead.
A two-out single to left field by Dan Betteridge cut Rutgers’ deficit to 5-2 in the third, but DiBartolomeo responded with his sixth home run of the season over the center field wall to gain the run back.
Belnome laced a two-run single to left center in the fourth to help extend WVU’s lead to 9-3. Parks began the frame by hitting his 11th home run of the season, a solo blast over the right center field wall.
WVU’s series victory over the Scarlet Knights (18-28, 5-16) is its first since taking two of three at home on April 9-10 in 2005. WVU’s 13th conference win also matches its total from 2008 with six BIG EAST games left in the regular season.
The Mountaineers play Cincinnati in their last home conference series of the season on May 9-10 at Hawley Field.