Baseball: Buckner, McDavid Get Big Hits in Win
By Steve Stone for MSNsportsNET.com
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Redshirt junior Grant Buckner and junior Justin McDavid tallied two RBIs apiece to lead the West Virginia University baseball team to a 7-5 victory over Bryant on Thursday evening at Hawley Field.
Both players provided game-changing at-bats, helping the Mountaineers (4-7) come back from an early 3-1 hole en route to its home-opening victory. Buckner, who is just three hits shy of 100 for his career, laced a run-scoring single through the left side in the fifth inning to trim WVU’s deficit to just 3-2. He later broke a 5-5 tie in the eighth inning on a sacrifice fly to right field. Buckner finished 1-for-3 on the evening.
McDavid, a Queen Creek, Ariz., native, finished 2-for-4 with one run scored. He tied up the game in the bottom of the first on an opposite-field single through the left side to score Matt Malloy from third base. He then tied up the game at 3-3 in the sixth inning on an RBI liner to centerfield, and Jedd Gyorko followed with a run-scoring single to right center on a full-count pitch to put WVU on top at 4-3.
“I couldn’t be prouder of Justin McDavid,” coach Greg Van Zant said. “Here’s a kid that comes all the way out from Arizona, he stays 45 minutes away from Morgantown with his family and commutes, and he works hard everyday and wants to play. He’s giving us good at-bats at the bottom of the order. He deserves a lot of credit.”
Dom Hayes led all players with three hits, two of them coming on bunt singles. WVU outhit the Bulldogs (2-8) on the night, 13-9.
“Bryant is probably one of the best teams that nobody has heard of,” Van Zant added. “Their pitcher (Eric Polvani) is very good, and our hitters did a good job against him. They’re a very well-coached team. They made our guys play. We had a sense of urgency to win tonight.”
Polvani earned a no-decision after giving up four earned runs in 5.2 innings pitched. Reliever Salvatore Lisanti (0-2) took the loss after surrendering three runs on four hits in 1.1 innings pitched.
Senior right-hander Andy Altemus (1-2) earned his first victory of the season in relief, throwing five innings and giving up two runs on five hits with three strikeouts. He entered the game with two outs in the fourth and the Mountaineers trailing 3-1, and kept Bryant’s hitters at bay for most of the night.
Altemus’ only blemish came in the top of the eighth inning when Bryant left fielder Connor Carnignan tied the game at 5-5 with a two-out, two-run single to centerfield. Following the hit, Altemus managed to force designated hitter Dylan Stone into a groundout at second base, and recorded two outs in the ninth before closer Chris Enourato induced Jordan English into another groundout to second base to end the game.
Enourato’s ninth-inning appearance gives him 58 for his career, putting him in a tie on the school’s all-time list with former Mountaineers Jeremy Cummings (1996-99), Keith Mathias (1988-91) and Jim Heise (1953-56). He also recorded his second save of the season and 19th for his career.
Freshman Matt Frazer finished 1-for-4 with an RBI groundout that put WVU ahead, 7-5, in the eighth. Frazer now holds a 10-game hitting streak dating back to the first game of the season.
WVU returns to Hawley Field on Friday, March 12, in a matchup against Manhattan at 3 p.m.