by Nathaniel Zinn for MSNsportsNET.com
May 6, 2007
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. – The WVU baseball team kept its BIG EAST tournament hopes alive in an exciting 5-4 victory at Villanova on Sunday at the Villanova Ballpark. The win snapped a five game skid in league play.
With two on and two out in the bottom of the ninth, Villanova’s top hitter Derek Shunk ripped a shot into left field that backup leftfielder Brent Lockhart laid out to make a diving grab and end the game. Lockhart came into the game in the eighth inning in a double switch as Justin Jenkins moved to third and true freshman Chris Enourato came in to pitch from third base.
"Lockhart made an unbelievable clutch catch in a tight situation," head coach Greg Van Zant said. "It may have saved our season because it keeps us in the hunt for the tournament. If that ball gets by him we're done."
With WVU leading 5-4, Enourato stepped on the mound with two outs in the eighth and two runners on, but the Bridgeport, W.Va., native was able to get pinch hitter Matt McFolling to strike out swinging to end the threat.
"I can't say enough about how well Chris came in and pitched," Van Zant added.
Enourato got the first two outs of the ninth before Villanova threatened again. Ryan Arcadia was hit by a 2-2 pitch and awarded first base to keep the Wildcats alive. Then Joe Rosati singled to right field to put runners on the corners. Rosati then stole second to put runners at second and third. Shunk, a .406 hitter, worked Enourato into a full count before lining the game’s final pitch to Lockhart.
"It doesn't get any bigger than that. He sat over there on the bench the whole series and then comes in as a defensive replacement with just four outs in the game and then makes the play that saves the game. Wow."
Enourato was credited with his fifth save of the year.
Kenny Durst (5-3) had a strong outing, going 7.1 innings to earn the win. Durst gave up just four hits and four earned runs while striking out four on the hill. After a couple of matchup pitching changes, Enourato came in to close out the game.
Villanova’s Bill Hoffman (4-5) received the loss. Hoffman went 6.1 innings and gave up five runs, three earned.
WVU was down 2-1 in the top of the sixth but was able to recapture the lead 3-2. Austin Markel took a lead off walk and moved up to second on Trent Ridgley’s sacrifice bunt. Markel would score the tying run when Jordon Yost singled back up the middle.
Jason Pape reached on a fielder’s choice before Hoffman walked Enourato to put two runners on. Justin Parks then flared a single to right to score the go ahead run.
WVU got timely offense with two more runs in top of the seventh to increase its lead to 5-2. The Mountaineers managed to load the bases and scored a run when Pape was awarded first on catcher’s interference. West Virginia’s final run came as Enourato drew a bases loaded walk.
Markel finished 2-for-3 with two walks while Parks was 2-for-4 with two RBI. Enourato was 1-for-2 with a double, two walks, an RBI and the save on the mound.
The Wildcats’ Rosati went 2-for-5 while Shunk was 1-for-4 with a solo home run. Nova’s Josh Eidell shut WVU down the last 2.1 innings, allowing one hit and walking only one.
The Mountaineers (25-18, 7-13 BIG EAST) are one game back of Cincinnati, who currently holds the final BIG EAST tournament spot at 8-12. WVU is just three games back of fifth place Notre Dame (10-10). Villanova stays in seventh at 9-12, while USF (10-11) holds the sixth spot.
WVU’s next BIG EAST series is at Connecticut (6-12), who was idle this weekend, up in Storrs, Conn.
West Virginia returns to action at Maryland on Tuesday, at 6 p.m., in College Park, Md.