Late Rally Prevents Sweep

Villanova salvaged the final game of a three-game series with West Virginia by scoring five runs in the final two innings for a comeback 12-9 victory.

In something of a mirror image of Saturday's game, WVU took early leads, but could not hold them against the visiting Wildcats. Eleven walks by Mountaineer hurlers contributed directly to five of Villanova's runs, and spoiled another excellent day at the plate for West Virginia's batsmen.

West Virginia continued its hot hitting early in the game as it scored one run in the bottom of the first and added three in the next frame. Tyler Kuhn led off the game with a walk, and Doug Nelms moved him to third with a double, but WVU was able to get only one run courtesy of Justin Jenkins' groundout. With two outs and a runner on third, Kyle Matuszek, who is hitting .323 on the season, laid down a bunt attempt that was fielded and thrown to first to end the threat.

WVU added three runs in the third, despite having to overcome an out produced by another early sacrifice by DH Bill Wooten, who gave himself up to move Casey Bowling to second after a leadoff single. David Carpenter followed with a two-run homer to left, and after another out, Kuhn smoked his second hit of the day, this time a home run to right that put the Mountaineers in front 4-0.

Starting pitcher Joe Stupka weathered Villanova threats in each of the first three innings, but was able to escape each one, assisted mightily by a pair of double plays. However, it all fell apart in the fourth as Villanova scored five runs. The chief blow was centerfielder Vic Molloy's grand slam, with two of the three runners earning their runs courtesy of walks from Stupka, who issued six free passes in just 3 1/3 innings of work.

The self-inflicted wounds continued in the sixth inning, when the Mountaineers issued two free passes (one with the bases loaded) and hit another batter as the Wildcats extended their lead to 7-4. In the bottom of the inning, however, WVU tied the score with a three-run outburst.

Bowling led off the frame with a solo home run, which was followed by a Wooten single. Carpenter popped up while trying to sacrifice Wooten to second, but Adam White got aboard on a bunt single and Kuhn stroked his third hit of the day to load the bases. A wild pitch and an infield single by Nelms brought home two runs, but Villanova escaped further damage by getting a ground ball double play to end the inning.

Bowling and Jenkins again came through with RBI doubles in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively, but in between Villanova scored two runs in the eighth on a two-RBI double that briefly gave the Wildcats the lead. WVU's score in the bottom of that inning tied matters at 9-9, and set the stage for an action-filled ninth.

The visitors scored three runs in the top of the ninth after seeing their first two batters record outs, and it was again a case of self-inflicted wounds by the Mountaineers that set the stage. A walk issued by losing pitcher Kenny Durst, was followed by an error by Kuhn that allowed one run to score. That miscue also prolonged the inning for Nova's Frank Cirone, who smacked the last of a lengthy list of run-producing doubles that plated the final two scores of the game.

Going into the bottom of the inning down three, WVU's potent lineup didn't give up. West Virginia loaded the bases with two outs, but Jenkins' liner to centerfield was caught by Kris Molloy to end the game.

Kuhn and Bowling had monster days at the plate. Kuhn was 4-5 with a home run, three runs scored and an RBI, while Bowling was an identical 4-5 with a homer of his own to go along with two runs scored and two RBI. Nelms was 3-5 with an RBI.

Although the disappointing loss put WVU's Big East record back to .500 at 9-9, the Mountaineers are still in decent shape in the conference standings. WVU is tied with Louisville for fifth place in the conference, and would surely take 2-1 records in each of their final three game league sets of the season. West Virginia next travels to Bethesda, Mary., next weekend for a three-game series with Georgetown, which is currently in ninth place in the league with a 7-11 record. The top eight teams advance to the Big East tournament.


BlueGoldNews Top Stories