MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University baseball team defeated USF, 7-6, to win the season-opening BIG EAST series over the Bulls on Sunday afternoon in Tampa, Fla.
The Mountaineers (16-10) finished with seven runs on nine hits, while USF (10-14) scored six runs on 10 hits. Both teams committed one error.
“We ended up using five pitchers this weekend and all of them competed well and that’s all you can ask,” coach Greg Van Zant said. “They went in and competed, didn’t back down and everyone gave us a chance to win. Our hitters worked hard, prepared, had good at-bats and were successful.”
Senior right-hander Andy Berry (4-1) pitched out of several jams to earn the win in 8.1 innings pitched. Berry allowed four earned runs on 10 hits before handing the game over to freshman Josh Harlow, who recorded the final two outs of the game to earn his first save of the season.
“It was a big win for us to be able to get two out of three the first weekend on the road at one of the toughest places to play,” coach Greg Van Zant said. “It was a huge win and Andy Berry really gutted it out and Josh Harlow came in at the end of the ninth and gets the No. 2 and No. 3 hitters.”
Senior Justin McDavid, redshirt senior Grant Buckner and freshman Ryan McBroom had two hits each to lead the Mountaineer offense. Sophomore Matt Malloy scored two runs, including a home run, while McBroom finished with two RBI.
USF opened the scoring with three runs in the bottom of the second to take an early 3-0 lead over West Virginia. USF’s Chad Taylor singled to right with runners on the corners to drive in Todd Brazeal, while a Peter Brotons liner through the left side scored James Ramsay from second making it 2-0. A double by Jonathan Koscso to left field drove in Taylor for the final run of the inning, while Brotons was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first to end the inning.
The high-powered WVU offense got underway with a leadoff home run to center field from Malloy to bring the score to 3-1. Senior Mark Dvoroznak was walked and then sacrificed to second by sophomore Brady Wilson’s bunt. After McDavid's single to shortstop, redshirt junior Dan DiBartolomeo walked to load the bases. Redshirt senior Jeremy Gum was then hit by a pitch to score Dvoroznak, while a wild pitch scored McDavid. McBroom followed with a bases clearing double to center field, driving in Gum and DiBartolomeo, making the score 5-3.
USF was able to cut the deficit to 5-4 in the bottom of half of the inning with a solo home run to deep left field by Sam Mende. Berry was able to force Falla into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Malloy reached on a fielding error by the USF third baseman to lead off the top of the sixth and later scored on a McDavid single to left field to take a 6-4 lead.
Buckner then added West Virginia’s final run in the top of the seventh after sophomore Chris Rasky singled to center field. USF responded with two runs in the bottom half of the inning on a Mende double to left field that drove in Alex Mendez and Koscso to bring the score to 7-6.
Starter Nick Gonzalez took the loss for USF, allowing five runs on five hits in 4.1 innings pitched. The Bulls used three relief pitchers in the loss.
West Virginia will be back in action on Tuesday against Morehead State in Charleston, W.Va., for the Mountaineer Diamond Classic. The game will begin at 6 p.m. at Appalachian Power Park. To order tickets visit WVPower.com or call the West Virginia Power Box Office at (304) 344-BATS.