Peak Performance

West Virginia pitcher Matt Yurish gave up just one run in eight innings as the Mountaineers grabbed game one of a crucial three-game series against Cincinnati on Saturday.

Yurish started the game by hitting the leadoff batter and walking the second, and despite a double play that relieved the pressure of a big inning, yielded a run on an RBI single to Jack Nelson. That was the biggest threat the Bearcats would muster in the opener, however, as Yurish limited the home team to just three hits the rest of the way. He also walked four batters, and had just two innings in which he faced the minimum number of hitters, but solid Mountaineer defense, combined with eight strikeouts, kept UC from mounting many serious scoring chances.

On the other side of the diamond, West Virginia continued to pound the ball. WVU, which leads the league in numerous offensive categories, scored nine runs and smacked 15 hits.

After tying the game in the top of the second on catcher David Carpenter's home run to right center, the Mountaineers took command with four runs in the third, with all the damage coming after the first two WVU hitters of the inning were retired. Kyle Matuszek started the two-out lightning with a two-run double, and Casey Bowling capped the outburst with WVU's second tater of the game, this a blast to left that put West Virginia on top 5-1.

As most Mountaineer foes have found this year, the WVU offense doesn't take many innings off. West Virginia's lineup is loaded from top to bottom, and 1-2-3 innings are rare against the potent Gold and Blue bashers. Thus, it was no surprise when WVU continued to dent the scoreboard.

Doug Nelms singled home a run in the fourth, and Carpenter recorded his second RBI with a run-scoring double in the fifth. That made it 7-1, and when Stan Posluszny smacked another two-run single in the sixth, the only mystery was what the final score would be.

Yurish removed all suspense by remaining in command through the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. After the first, he did not allow a baserunner past second base, and pitched a masterful eight innings in all. Kevin Korzun came on in the ninth, and only a throwing error kept him from recording a 1-2-3 inning as well.

Eight of WVU's batters had at least one hit in the game. Nelms and Posluszny both went 3-5, and Bowling, Posluszny, Carpenter and Matuszek each drove in two runs.

Each team left nine runners on base, but West Virginia's advantages at the plate proved to be the difference. The Mountaineers smacked six extra base hits, while Bearcat batters could not manage one. While UC did put baserunners aboard in every inning but two, they could not come up with hits in key situations to drive them home.

With the win, WVU gained a much-needed leg up in the three-game series, which will go a long way in determining the teams that make the Big East tournament. West Virginia and Cincinnati are now both 11-11 in the league. A split of the final two games of the series would keep the teams tied, but give WVU the tiebreaker advantage going into the last week of league play.

The Mountaineers and Bearcats continue the series with the second game of the Saturday doubleheader this evening.

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