Baseball: Seventh-Inning Outburst Lifts WVU

  • March 21, 2009 05:00 PM
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By Steve Stone for MSNsportsNET.com
March 21, 2009

west virginia 12, uconn 2
j.o. christian field
storrs, conn.
West Virginia 1 0 0 0 0 0 6 0 5 12 12 2
UConn 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 6 0
Stat Comparison
At-Bats 34 34
RBI 12 1
Walks 7 6
Strikeouts 8 9
Left On Base 9 12
Top WVU Players
Top Batter
Top Pitcher
Vince Belnome
2-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI, 1 BB
Jonathan Jones
7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 R, 6 BB, 6 K

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Vince Belnome’s grand slam in the seventh inning powered the West Virginia University baseball team to its second straight victory over Connecticut, 12-2, on Saturday afternoon at J.O. Christian Field in Storrs, Conn.

Down 2-1 entering the seventh frame, the Mountaineers (14-5, 2-0) scored six decisive runs in the inning, capped by Belnome’s grand slam that gave WVU a five-run cushion entering the final two innings. Dan DiBartolomeo led off the seventh with a solo home run to left field, his third of the season, to tie the game at 2-2, and designated hitter Justin Ellis gave WVU the lead for good on a run-scoring double to right center.

Belnome drove in a game-high five runs, the second time this season the Coatesville, Pa., native has amassed five RBIs in one game. Belnome recently accomplished the feat in game two of a doubleheader against New Jersey Tech on March 8.

“Vince and (Dan) DiBartolomeo were big for us today,” Coach Greg Van Zant said. “It’s always important to have good at-bats, and our capability to score these runs late proves that we’re a good hitting ballclub.”

Ellis finished the afternoon going 3-for-5 with two RBIs, one run scored and a double. The Pickerington, Ohio, resident came through in the ninth inning when he registered a bases loaded single through the left side to build on WVU’s offensive explosion, in which it scored 11 runs over the final three innings.

DiBartolomeo continued his hot streak at the plate, adding two hits with two RBIs and a run scored. Austin Markel, Tobias Streich, Joe Agreste and Grant Buckner each added an RBI in WVU’s five-run ninth inning to put the game out of reach.

The Mountaineers totaled 12 hits altogether, maximizing their opportunities throughout the game when runners were on base. Starter Jonathan Jones (3-0) put forth a workmanlike effort on the mound, not allowing an earned run while striking out six Huskies (7-9, 0-2) in seven innings pitched. The freshman left-hander did not yield an extra base hit in his fourth career start.

“Considering Jonathan (Jones) was pitching in his first career BIG EAST game, he did a great job,” Van Zant added. “He was able to go seven innings and came up huge for us today.”

Pitching effectively in relief was junior Andy Altemus. The junior college transfer threw two innings and did not allow any runs on three hits while striking out three. UConn’s Elliot Glynn (1-2) took the loss after giving up four earned runs on seven hits in 6.1 innings pitched.

WVU got off to another strong start in the first inning, taking an early lead courtesy of Belnome’s run-scoring single. Justin Parks began the game with a walk, and two straight groundouts advanced the Columbus, Ohio, native to third base. Belnome’s single drove in Parks to give the Mountaineers a 1-0 advantage.

An error-filled fourth inning put WVU at a deficit as the Huskies scored two runs. With two outs and a runner on second, Belnome’s error at second base off the bat of George Springer kept the inning alive. Two batters later, Doug Elliot hit a bases-loaded single to third base to tie the game, and a miscue by DiBartolomeo allowed another unearned run to score to give UConn a 2-1 lead.

Jones worked his way out of a jam in the fifth inning to keep the game close. He began the frame by walking Harold Brantley Jr. as well as Matt Burnett to put two runners on base with no outs. However, Jones forced a flyout followed by two key strikeouts to get out of the inning unscathed.

The Mountaineers go for the sweep against UConn in the final game of the series on Sunday, March 22, at J.O. Christian Field. The contest will begin at a revised time of 11 a.m.