Baseball: WVU Swept by No. 24 Pitt
By Steve Stone for MSNsportsNET.com
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University baseball team could not overcome another offensive attack by No. 24 Pitt as it fell, 24-9, on Sunday afternoon at Hawley Field.
Throughout the three-game set, Pitt’s nationally-ranked offense was too much for WVU’s pitching. In today’s contest, the Panthers’ (30-10, 12-3) 24 runs and 27 base hits were the most allowed by the Mountaineers (17-23, 3-12) this season.
WVU tied its season-high with five errors on the day, leading to nine unearned runs. On offense, WVU recorded 14 base hits to expand its double-digit hit streak to four games and nine of its last 10 contests overall.
Junior Justin McDavid’s double to right center in the third inning extended his hitting streak to 16 games. In the last five seasons, WVU has had nine different players who have held a hitting streak of at least 15 games, topping out with former Mountaineer Justin Jenkins’ 38-game streak that is tied for the 10th-longest in NCAA history.
McDavid went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, marking his team-leading 13th multiple-RBI game of the season. The Queen Creek, Ariz., native hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield in the first inning and added a two-run single in the ninth.
Pitt scored in bunches once again, scoring in six multiple-run innings. The Panthers scored eight runs in the fifth and seven runs in the third frame after clinging to a 5-4 lead through two innings.
The Panthers scored three runs in the first inning as David Chester drove in the first two runs on a triple to centerfield. Catcher Kevan Smith followed by grounding out to shortstop Jedd Gyorko to plate Chester, making it 3-0.
WVU cut away with one run in the bottom half on McDavid’s sacrifice fly. Gyorko led off with a single through the left side, and two batters later Grant Buckner hit his first of two doubles to put runners on the corners and position Gyorko for the score.
After Ronald Sucre and Zach Duggan recorded consecutive RBI singles, WVU came back with a three-run second inning. Colin Durborow started with a double to left field, and Mark Dvoroznak walked to put runners on first and second base. After both players advanced into scoring position on an errant pickoff attempt by starter Cole Taylor, Brady Wilson’s two-run single up the middle made it 5-3. Gyorko then plated Wilson on a line-drive double over Duggan’s head in centerfield.
Trailing 12-4 in the bottom of the third, freshman Matt Malloy recorded an RBI groundout. In the seventh, junior Kevin Griffin hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield, and Dvoroznak’s first career home run to left field in the eighth was part of a three-run inning for the Mountaineers.
Gyorko finished 3-for-5 with one RBI. His single up the middle in the sixth inning tied him with former WVU standout Tim McCabe for third place on the school’s career base hits list with 251.
Buckner, Durborow and Dvoroznak also added two hits apiece, with Buckner recording two doubles in the loss.
Pitt left-hander Taylor took a no decision as he surrendered four runs on five hits in 1.1 innings pitched. Reliever Alex Caravella (1-0) got the win after allowing five runs on seven hits in seven innings pitched.
WVU starter Eric Hinkle (2-4) took the loss after giving up four earned runs on four hits in 1.2 innings pitched. Right-hander Marcus Broadwater entered in the ninth inning and did not allow a hit while striking out one.
At the plate, the Mountaineers struck out just once as a team, their lowest amount since fanning once against Rutgers on May 3, 2009.
After Sunday’s loss, WVU is currently tied for 10th-place with Villanova in the conference standings. The Mountaineers trail eighth-place Cincinnati (5-12) by two games and ninth-place Seton Hall (4-11) by one. Should WVU and Seton Hall tie at any spot, the Mountaineers would own the tiebreaker after taking two of three from the Pirates earlier this season.
WVU has already played three of the BIG EAST’s four nationally-ranked teams this season in No. 12 Louisville, No.19 Connecticut and the 24th-ranked Panthers. WVU will not play No. 21 Rutgers unless both teams meet in the conference tournament. The top eight teams in the conference qualify for the BIG EAST Championship, which takes place on May 26-30 at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla.
WVU returns to Hawley Field on Tuesday, April 27, against Duquesne at 7:05 p.m.