WVU Takes Two From Cincinnati
By Steve Stone for MSNsportsNET.com
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Senior Joe Agreste and freshman left-hander Jonathan Jones had stellar performances to lead the West Virginia University baseball team to a doubleheader sweep over Cincinnati on Saturday at Hawley Field.
Agreste’s four-RBI effort led the Mountaineers (33-14, 15-8) to a 15-9 victory in a back-and-forth battle in game one, and Jones (6-1) held a powerful Cincinnati offense to just one run on seven hits while striking out seven in 7.1 innings pitched in WVU’s 9-2 win in game two.
WVU’s two victories on the day solidify a bid to the BIG EAST Tournament, which will be held from May 19-23 at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla. The Mountaineers are now in third place in the BIG EAST and trail second-place Louisville by 1 ½ games in the conference standings.
WVU’s two wins snapped its five-game losing streak to the Bearcats (26-25, 11-12). Sophomore Jedd Gyorko went 5-for-10 with one home run, six RBIs and three doubles through both games, while Colin Durborow amassed four hits and two doubles on the day.
Junior Vince Belnome became the 12th Mountaineer to reach 200 career hits after singling up the middle in the seventh inning of game two. Seniors Austin Markel and Justin Parks are now one and three hits shy, respectively, of joining Belnome on the prestigious list.
Markel finished 4-for-8 through both games with one home run and four RBIs, while Parks sparked WVU at the plate with two hits and two doubles in the second contest.
WVU notched 28 base hits on the day, including 16 in game two, its highest output in BIG EAST play this season.
In the first game, seven home runs were hit altogether courtesy of a strong wind blowing out from left field. Both teams were tied at 7-7 through four innings, but the Mountaineers tallied eight runs in the seventh inning to put the contest out of reach. Leading 8-7 after Vince Belnome scored on a throwing error by Cincinnati shortstop Chris Peters, Agreste came through with a clutch two-run double to give WVU a 10-7 advantage.
WVU let up an early run in the first inning when Mike Spina hit his conference-leading 20th home run of the season, a solo shot to left center on the first pitch to give Cincinnati a 1-0 lead.
Markel responded in the bottom half with his 13th home run of the year, a solo blast to left field to tie the game at 1-1. Three batters later, Dan DiBartolomeo brought in Gyorko on a line drive double down the left field to give WVU a 2-1 advantage.
Cincinnati hit two round trippers in the third inning to take a 5-2 lead. Lance Durham started the scoring with a wind-driven two-run shot to left field, and Kylie Jones followed with another two-run home run to give the Bearcats a three-run cushion.
WVU amassed five runs in the third, highlighted by Gyorko’s three-run home run to left center to tie the game at 5-5. Agreste came through with a two-out, two-run single to left field to give the Mountaineers a 7-5 lead.
Spina tagged his second home run of the season, a tape-measure blast on a full count pitch in the fourth that tied the game at 7-7.
Junior Chris Enourato (6-0) recorded the victory in relief in game one, allowing one earned run on three hits while striking out three in three innings pitched. Cincinnati reliever Tyler Smith (3-4) gave up six runs in 1.1 frames to get the loss.
Jones had one of his best starts in the second game, working his changeup against the Bearcats and finding a way to strand runners and get out of potential jams. He swung the momentum of the contest in the seventh when he had runners on first and third base with no outs, but regained his composure to induce three consecutive outs to end the frame unscathed.
WVU was propelled by a three-run fifth inning, scoring each run with two outs. Agreste started the inning with a single to right field, then scored on a double to right center by Durborow to make it 3-0. Parks followed with an RBI double to left center, and Markel hit a run-scoring single through the right side as WVU rolled off five consecutive hits in the inning.
Bearcats starter Michael Hill (3-4) took the loss in game two after allowing six runs on 10 hits in 5.1 innings.
The Mountaineers try for the three-game sweep against Cincinnati on Sunday, May 10, at 1 p.m. at Hawley Field. The contest has been deemed “Dollar Day,” and four seniors in Parks, Markel, Agreste and Bobby Thompson will be honored prior to the game as part of Senior Day.