Buckner's Career Day Sparks WVU
By Steve Stone for MSNsportsNET.com
May 8, 2010
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – In a day that featured a resurgent Mountaineer offense scoring 28 combined runs, it was redshirt junior Grant Buckner’s career performance that stood above the rest in a doubleheader sweep over Notre Dame on Saturday at Hawley Field.
The Mountaineers (20-26, 5-15) took the first game by a 22-6 margin, then defeated the Fighting Irish (20-26, 8-12), 6-5, in game two. Buckner, who was joined by several teammates that made contributions in the doubleheader sweep, set a school record in game one by recording 10 RBIs on three home runs, becoming the first Mountaineer ever to produce double-digit RBIs in one game.
Buckner bested the former school record of nine RBIs that was held by three players – Vince Belnome (5/10/2009 vs. Cincinnati), Bill Biddle (5/9/1947 vs. Quantico Marines) and Angelo Onder (5/23/1936 vs. Ohio). Buckner also became the fifth WVU player in school history to record three home runs, and the first since Austin Markel accomplished the feat on March 15, 2008, versus Iona.
The Elkview native went a combined 6-for-9 on the day with 12 RBIs, three home runs and one double. His record-breaking blast came in the sixth inning of the first game when he hammered a 1-1 fastball from reliever Adam Norton over the left center wall to put the Mountaineers ahead comfortably at 18-5. Buckner drove in six runs through the first two frames on consecutive three-run home runs off Notre Dame starter Brian Dupra (4-3), who got into initial trouble with a 43-pitch first inning.
“Grant did a tremendous job today, as did our entire team,” coach Greg Van Zant said. “He has been swinging a hot bat lately and it’s a credit to how hard he’s worked this season.”
Buckner now carries a 13-game hitting streak heading into tomorrow’s game.
In the first game, WVU set season-highs at home with 22 runs and 21 base hits. The Mountaineers also set a single-game high with six home runs, their most since hitting the same amount against Stony Brook on March 8, 2003, in Bluefield, W.Va.
Designated hitter Jeremy Gum enjoyed a career performance of his own, becoming the second Mountaineer this year to produce five hits in a game. The Bridgeport native went 5-for-6 with a career-high five RBIs and two runs scored, recording a two-run double in the fifth and a three-run home run in the eighth.
Redshirt junior Mark Dvoroznak provided a major spark at the bottom of the lineup, reaching base safely in eight of his nine plate appearances. The Westlake, Ohio, native went 5-for-6 overall with one home run, two RBIs and three walks. He lifted a full-count offering from reliever Ryan Richter over the left field wall in the third inning of game one for his second round-tripper of the season, making it 9-2.
Every WVU player recorded a hit in game one, while six players produced multiple-hit games. Jedd Gyorko finished 2-for-4 with an RBI double, Kevin Griffin added two hits and his first two-run home run of the day, and Dom Hayes finished 2-for-5.
Starter Jarryd Summers (2-8) earned the victory in the first contest by striking out seven and giving up five runs on six hits in six innings pitched. The Sharpsville, Pa., native defeated the Irish for the second year in a row by throwing his secondary pitches effectively, tossing a multitude of off-speed pitches before throwing his fastball for strikes.
Summers had three innings in which he retired the side. On a day in which the wind was gusting 20-30 mph outward to left field, he picked his spots nicely and managed to surrender just one home run to Cameron McConnell in the third inning.
Jonathan Hash earned his first career save in the first game by pitching three effective innings. Hash gave up one run on one hit with three strikeouts.
With the first game out of reach, junior Justin McDavid provided some personal suspense when he hit lifted a single to centerfield in his final at-bat to extend his hitting streak to 21 games. However, he ended his streak in game two after an 0-for-4 performance.
A much swifter game two was highlighted by starter Andy Berry’s (3-3) superb performance. The Virginia Beach resident earned his first career conference win by tossing a season-long 7.1 innings and allowing just three runs on 10 hits with five strikeouts. Like Summers, Berry utilized his breaking pitch early and often, generating enough confidence to throw it in any situation.
“We got a huge boost from our pitching staff today,” Van Zant added. “It is always a positive when you play two ball games and all you have to use are two starters and two relievers. Both Jarryd Summers and Andy Berry threw well today and were a huge part of our success.”
WVU scored its runs in pairs, tallying two apiece in the third, fifth and sixth innings. Trailing 1-0, Buckner came through again with a two-run single through the left side. Gyorko added some much-needed insurance runs with a two-run home run in the fifth frame, his team-leading 15th blast of the season. He finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs in game two, and recorded a leadoff double to right center in the first inning to place him in a tie with former Mountaineer Tyler Kuhn for first place on WVU’s career doubles list with 65.
Griffin followed with WVU’s eighth home run of the day in the sixth inning, a two-run shot to left field to mark his second of the doubleheader. Griffin also made some spectacular plays on the defensive end, making a diving grab toward the backstop in foul territory off the bat of Mick Doyle. On another play, Griffin hustled down the line and prevented an errant throw from going into the dugout, which would have allowed batter Frank Desico to advance to second base.
Trailing 6-1, Notre Dame notched two runs in the seventh inning. The Irish then made it interesting in the ninth when it scored on a one-out sacrifice fly by Brayden Ashdown to cut its deficit to 6-5 with two outs and one runner on first base, However, reliever Chris Enourato recorded his fourth save of the season and 21st of his career by forcing David Casey into a game-ending groundout to second base.
WVU’s victories are its first two conference wins at home this season. The two wins also solidify WVU’s first series victory over Notre Dame since 2003.
The Mountaineers return for the final game of the series on Sunday, May 9, at 1 p.m. at Hawley Field. The game is a scheduled “Dollar Day,” with all tickets, hot dogs, popcorn and Coca-Colas available for purchase for just one dollar each.
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