Jumping On Top

It might be early to call a series "critical", but West Virginia certainly didn't hurt itself by nabbing game one of a three game set against what figures to be one of its prime contenders for a Big East playoff spot.

Scoring in each of the first seven innings of the game, West Virginia battered visiting Cincinnati 16-4 in the opener of a weekend series at Hawley Field in Morgantown. Powered by Trent Ridgley's record-tying five-hit, five-RBI performance at the plate, WVU pounded 19 hits, including two doubles, two triples, and three home runs.

Pitcher Matt Yurish overcame a tough start to pick up the win, yielding just two earned runs in seven innings of work. Two unearned Cincinnati runs in the first inning, courtesy of an error and a wild pich, put UC on top early, but support from the Mountaineer side came quickly and built to a crescendo that overwhelmed the Bearcat pitching staff.

Trailing 2-0, WVU cut the lead in half in the bottom of the first on Austin Markel's RBI single, then tied it in the second when Ridgley, who finished 5-6 on the afternoon to tie the Mountaineer record for most hits in a game, led off with a home run.

WVU sprinted into the lead in the bottom of the third with three consecutive hits to open the inning. Tyler Kuhn doubled, Justin Jenkins tripled and Markel singled to account for two runs, and when Vince Belnome and Adam White followed with hits later in the inning, West Virginia led by 6-2.

The parade didn't stop there. Jenkins smoked WVU's second leadoff homer of the game in the fourth, and the Mountaineers added two runs in the fifth on only one hit, as they manipulated two walks and two hit batsmen to again dent the scoreboard.

Leading 9-4 after 5 1/2 innings, the Mountaineers removed any hope of a UC comeback by scoring seven runs in the bottom of the sixth. The highlight of the frame was Ridgley's grand slam, which came after WVU loaded the bases on a hit and two walks. Following Ridgley's blast, a Vince Belnome triple set up West Virginia's final run of the game, as he was chased home by Justin Parks' single.

Ridgely completed his stellar performance by pitching the final two innings, and his showing on the mound was almost as good as the one he put up at the plate. Facing just one batter over the minimum, he struck out two Bearcats while walking just one to neatly tie up the win.

In addition to Ridgley, five Mountaineers had multi-hit performances, with Kuhn (3), Belnome (3), Parks (3), Jenkins (2) and Markel (2) rapping out multiple safeties. Jenkins ran his consecutive game hitting strek to 30, tying Josh Williamson's Mountaineer record.

Yurish settled after the early troubles to strike out 12 Bearcats in seven innings while walking just three.

The win evened WVU's Big East record at 5-5 and moved WVU into sole possession of sixth place in the league. West Virginia will get a chance to further solidify that spot when it faces UC again on Saturday afternoon.

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