April 14, 2007
Box Score |
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.---Cincinnati hit back-to-back homers in the third inning then held off a late West Virginia charge to score a key 11-8 win over the Mountaineers on Saturday afternoon at rainy Hawley Field. The victory moves the Bearcats back into a tie for sixth place in the league standings at 19-15 overall and 5-6 in the BIG EAST.
With the score knotted at one in the third, Neall French and Brian Szarmach hit consecutive blasts to stake the Bearcats to a lead it would not relinquish. The fireworks were far from over as both teams continued to pour on the runs between the rain drops. By game's end, West Virginia (21-11, 5-6 BIG EAST) would bring the game-tying run to the plate in the ninth, but could not cash in as the series evened at a game apiece.
Dan Osterbrock did a solid job of keeping the WVU bats in check, allowing just one earned run (four total) in seven innings of action. The sophomore matched his career-high with eight strikeouts in the game and improved to 6-1 on the season with the win.
The offensive firepower came from multiple sources as all but one UC starter had at least one hit on the way to 14 total for the Bearcats. Tony Campana led the hit parade with three, while Josh Harrison, Szarmach and Jamel Scott tacked on two apiece. Szarmach added a fifth inning homer to his third inning blast for the first multi-homer game of his career.
Much like the night before, UC took advantage of first inning West Virginia miscues to score an early run. Despite striking out, Michael Obyc reached on a wild pitch strike three, stole second and scored on a three-base throwing error by Vince Belnome.
Belnome would avenge the error in the bottom of the second as his RBI double tied the game at one. The third inning saw French launch a two-run homer to left center and Szarmach follow with a solo shot to right. The two long balls marked the second time this season UC has hit consecutive homers.
The scoreboard showed a 7-1 Cincinnati lead after five innings as UC chased starting pitcher Kenny Durst. In the fourth, Harrison produced a clutch at-bat as he ripped a two-out, two-run double to left. Szarmach followed in the fifth inning with a lead off solo shot to deep left center.
West Virginia made the game interesting in the sixth scoring three times to get within three. Mike Schmidt led the inning off with a homer to right and consecutive sac flies by Adam White and Tyler Kuhn cut the UC advantage to three at 7-4.
The Bearcats gave themselves breathing room with a three-run eighth that started with an Obyc RBI ground out. Harrison then ripped his second double of the day into left and later scored on Belnome's second throwing error of the day.
Billy Welsh, UC's top reliever this season entered in the eighth, but had an uncharacteristically bad outing as West Virginia scored three in the frame. White dropped an RBI single into left center for the first run and after Welsh got a pair of outs, Austin Markel drove the hosts within three with a two-run single to left.
UC again went up four in the top of the ninth as the rain turned harder. Kyle Rapp was on second when Ryan Baker hit a high fly to center that White appeared to lose in the rain for a double and the Bearcats' 11th run.
After Welsh retired the lead-off hitter in the ninth, things got scary once more for UC as Belnome homered to center. After a walk and a hit by pitch, the tying run came to the plate in the form of Kuhn. Kuhn moved both runners along with a ground out, bringing Justin Jenkins, one of the BIG EAST's best hitters to the plate. With the count at 2-1, Welsh was able to retire Jenkins on a pop up to second to end the game.
West Virginia finished the day with 12 hits, including four by Belnome and two each by Jenkins and Jason Pape. Kenny Durst (4-2) was hit with the loss, while turning in a rather odd pitching line. The junior struck out a career-high 10, but allowed seven runs and eight hits in five innings of work.
Weather permitting once again, UC and WVU will try to wrap up the series at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The pitching match up features a pair of junior right-handers in Cincinnati's John Baird and West Virginia's Levi Maxwell.