Slugfest Sweep

West Virginia needed every one of the 13 runs it scored in Saturday's nightcap to complete a doubleheader sweep of Cincinnati on Saturday.

WVU continued its hot hitting in the second game of Saturday's twinbill against Cincinnati, and in the end the Mountaineers' bats proved mightier than the Bercats' resurgent lumber. WVU won the nightcap, 13-12, and moved ahead of UC in the Big East standings.

It certainly wasn't as easy as the opener, however, which WVU won 9-1. Cincinnati scored three runs in the first off starter Dan Leatherman, who was agin his own worst enemy as he issued three walks in the inning. A WVU drop of a UC foul ball also contributed to the carnage, and only a 4-6-3 double play helped Leatherman get out of even more trouble.

As it did in the opener, West Virginia continued to pound the horsehide, and not just for single bases. The Mountaineers smacked six doubles in an eight-run second inning, sending 13 batters to the plate and working its way deep into the Cincinnati bullpen. In all, the Bearcats used six pitchers in the nightcap, and only one managed to last more than two innings. That hurler, Nick Buscemi, lasted just 3 2/3 innings, and although he did manage to get UC out of the nightmarish second, ended up yielding seven runs.

Unlike the opener, however, Cincinnati didn't fold when faced with a deficit. The home team responded with a two-run single by Logan Parker in the bottom of the second which drew the Bearcats within three runs, and set the stage for further batting fireworks.

The Bearcats weren't able to get big hits or extra base knocks in the opener, but that wasn't a problem in the nightcap. Two innings later, UC loaded the bases with a walk and two hits, and Brian Szarmach cleared them all with a grand slam that put them back in front at 9-8.

West Virginia then surged back in front with three runs in the top of the fifth on its own big smash -- a Tyler Kuhn three-run homer to right, but once again UC was equal to the challenge. This time it was Parker, who had six RBI on the day, who matched WVU's hit with a three-run home run of his own. That made the score 12-11, and finally chased Leatherman, who gave up all of UC's runs.

In a bit of irony, West Virginia went from big hits to small ball to produce its final two runs and rally for the win. WVU used three singles, a wild pitch and an walk to score one run, then scraped out the go-ahead tally on David Carpenter's ground ball double play. Stan Posluszny scored on the sequence, and his run proved to be the game winner.

The real key to the win came in the form of West Virginia reliever Ryan Hill, who pitched 4 2/3 innings of scoreless ball. Hill did yield four hits and two walks, but also struck out six Bearcats and got key outs with runners in scoring positions. He stranded two baserunners in the seventh and three in the eighth, then got three outs after a UC leadoff double in the ninth to earn the win for himself and give WVU the series sweep.

Every Mountaineer except Carpenter had at least two hits in the game, which did nothing to hurt WVU's league-leading batting average. Kuhn had three of WVU's seven hits, and seven of WVU's nine hitters had at least one RBI.

West Virginia now stands one game ahead of UC at 12-11 in the league, while the Bearcats fell to 11-12. WVU could go a long way toward earning a berth in the Big East tournament with a third win over UC in the final game of the series on Sunday.

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