Season's End

West Virginia's 2006 baseball season ended with a 12-7 loss to St. John's in the elimination bracket of the Big East baseball tournament Thursday night at Bright House Networks Field in Clearwater, Fla.

In a reverse of the matchup between the same teams two nights earlier, WVU jumped out to an early lead, only to see the Red Storm rally for the win.

Justin Jenkins' two-run double in the first and Kyle Matuszek's two-run homer in the third acocunted for four of WVU's five early runs as the Mountaineers burst out of the gate to a 5-1 lead after three innings. However, as has been the case in many of West Virginia's losses this year, the pitching staff couldn't hold the lead.

In the top of the fourth, St. John's sent 11 batters to the plate and scored six runs, chasing WVU starter Eric Saffel. The Red Storm piled up seven of their 21 hits in the frame, and although they held just a 7-5 lead at that point, set the tone for the remainder of the contest.

West Virgina cut the lead to one when Michael Burger homered to lead off the bottom of the inning, but the game changed when Jared Yecker came on in relief following Burger's blast. The freshman proceeded to hold down the Mountaineers over the next 3 1/3 innings, allowing just four hits while striking out three.

West Virginia helped the Red Storm effort by killing consecutive scoring chances in the fourth and fifth innings. Tyler Kuhn was picked off first base in the fourth (he would likely have scored, as WVU's next two batters produced a walk and a single). In the fifth, the Mountaineers again needlessly gave up an out when Casey Bowling, who led the team with a .403 batting average, was ordered to sacrifice after Kyle Matuszek led off the inning with a single.

The Red Storm removed all suspense from the outcome by scoring two runs in the eighth and three more in the ninth off reliever Dan Leatherman, who pitched in all three games in the tournament. WVU scored its final run of the year on Doug Nelms' solo home run to lead off the ninth.

Jenkins and Matuszek were the hitting standouts on the evening, with the former going 3-5 with a double and two RBIs, while the latter was 2-5 with a home run and three RBIs.

The Mountaineers finished a solid season with a 36-22 record.

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