Ugly Day, Ugly Game

West Virginia and Cincinnati played the second game of their weekend series on Saturday afternoon. At the end of the day, it was the Bearcats who held the upper hand.

The Mountaineers just couldn't seem to get in sync for much of the afternoon. Part of that was self-inflicted from the very beginning. West Virginia starter Kenny Durst struck out the first two batters of the game, but Cincy right fielder Michael Obyc reached base when strike three got away from Mountaineer catcher Justin Parks. Obyc then scored on a two-base throwing error by Mountaineer third baseman Vince Belnome.

Belnome, a freshman, would make-up for his error in the third inning when he plated Parks on a double to left field. But the Bearcats jumped right back out in front the very next inning when Neall French and Brian Szarmach connected for back to back home runs, which drove in a trio of Bearcats.

Durst (4-2) would do his best to keep the Gold and Blue in the game, but the home runs seemed to rattle the veteran lefty. The Point Pleasant native would allow six earned runs and eight hits in five innings pitched. He also recorded 10 strikeouts, which is a new career high.

Bearcat lefty Dan Osterbrock (6-1) allowed just one earned run in seven innings of work while striking out eight and lowering his ERA to 2.78.

The visitors pounded out 14 hits, including three round-trippers. Szarmach smashed his second home run in the fifth inning. The Bearcats picked up three insurance runs in the eighth inning, one of which came on a heads up hustle play by third baseman Josh Harrison. Belnome committed his second throwing error of the afternoon on a ground ball to third, and Harrison sped around from second base to tack on the extra run.

Belnome led the Mountaineers with four hits, including a ninth inning home run. Designated hitter Mike Schmidt also homered for West Virginia. Senior outfielder Justin Jenkins collected a pair of hits, and extended his hitting streak to a school-record 31 games.

"Our guys didn't give up, but we just didn't get the job done on the mound today," said head coach Greg Van Zant.

With Osterbrock out of the game, West Virginia picked on UC reliever Billy Welsh in the game's final two innings. In the eighth, Adam White drove in Belnome with a single up the middle. Austin Markel followed that up with a two-run single of his own, bringing the Mountaineers to within three runs at 10-7.

Trailing 11-8 in the ninth, Jenkins came to the plate with two on and a chance to tie the game. Welsh had other ideas, forcing the Mountaineer star to pop out.

The start of the game was delayed 30 minutes due to the steady rain that fell for much of the afternoon. West Virginia concludes its homestand with tomorrow afternoon's game against the Bearcats. That game is scheduled to begin at 1:00.

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