Pitching Woes

West Virginia had combined excellent pitching, solid defense and heady play to fashion an early 5-1 record in the Big Eat conference, but none of those things were in evidence as the Mountaineers lost a sloppily played 10-6 game at Rutgers in the Friday opener of a three game conference set.

WVU pitchers walked seven batters and hit three more, giving the Scarlet Knights ten free baserunners, and the Mountaineers committed a crucial error in the first inning to help fuel an early Rutgers uprising that put the visitors in an early hole.

Rutgers got on the board early by manufacturing two runs courtesy of WVU gaffes. Shortstop Jeff Grose walked, stole second, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch, and Todd Frazier singled, advanced to second on a passed ball, to third on a wild pitch, then scored on a throwing error by WVU first baseman Kyle Matuszek. Frazier's single was the only hit of the inning.

WVU rallied with a pair of its own in the second inning, as Adam White singled in David Carpenter and Adam Markell, and then took its first lead of the game as Stan Posluszny doubled home Justin Jenkins in then third. That lead was short lived, however, as the Scarlet Knights sent eight batters to the plate and scored four runs in the bottom of the inning to retake the lead at 6-3. The big blow in the inning was Steve Hook's double, which drove home two runs.

The homestanding Knights took control in the game in the bottom of the fifth inning, as they scored three more runs and chased Mountaineer starter Joe Stupka, who yielded six hits and four walks in a difficult four innings of work. Stupka's replacement, Ryan Hill, didn't fare much better, as he allowed two of Rutgers' three runs in the inning while walking two batters of his own.

WVU looked to be getting back into the game in the top of the sixth, when Carpenter blasted a three-run homer off Rutgers starter Steve Holt to narrow the gap to 9-6. The dinger chased Holt from the game, but reliever Joe Baione shut the door on WVU the rest of the way, giving up only a pair of harmless singles in 3 2/3 innings of work to nail down the save. Rutgers added an insurance run on Hook's RBI single in the bottom of the inning to close out the scoring.

The Mountaineers and Scarlet Knights face off again on Saturday in the second game of the series at 1:00 p.m.

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