'Cats Declawed

Behind a determined effort from pitcher Josh Whitlock, West Virginia downed Ohio 6-1 on Wednesday in Athens.

Whitlock twice battled out of bases-loaded situations without allowing a run and pitched eight tough innings to propel WVU to the road win. After allowing a run in the second, Whitlock kept the Bobcats off the scoreboard even as they put nine baserunners aboard between the third and seventh innings.

In the third, two walks and an error loaded the bases, but Whitlock induced a groundout to get out of the jam. Two Ohio singles resulted in another scoring chance for the Bobcats in the fifth, but the another ground ball out snuffed that rally. And in the sixth, two walks and a hit again loaded the bases, but a routine fly to centerfield retired the side.

Whitlock allowed six hits and walked four, but balanced that with six strikeouts in moving to 5-3 on the season. Brendan Bergerson pitched a flawless ninth inning to sew up the win.

Whitlock was the beneficiary of some early WVU offense that gave him room to breathe from the start. Adam White got things going in the first by walking, moving to second on Tyler Kuhn's hit, then later scoring on Austin Markel's sacrifice fly. One inning later, Trent Ridgely's leadoff double put him in scoring position, and after moving to third on a bunt single from Vince Belnome, the DH scored on a fielder's choice.

After the Bobcats tallied their lone run in the bottom of the inning, West Virginia broke out with three more runs in the top of the third. Kuhn led off the inning with a double (WVU's third consecutive inning with a leadoff hit), then scored on Justin Jenkins' single to center, which extended his school-record hitting streak to 32 games. Markel sacrificed him to second, and Jordon Yost followed with a blast that cleared the left-centerfield wall to make the score 5-1.

WVU added a run without benefit of a hit in the seventh by utilizing aggressive baserunning. Jenkins walked, stole second, then stole third in a double steal with Markel, who also walked to get aboard. Ridgely's fielder's choice then plated Jenkins for the final run.

Both teams missed several scoring opportunities, as the Mountaineers left ten runners on base and the Bobcats nine. Kuhn and Belnome had two hits apiece for West Virginia, while Jenkins had three of West Virginia's six stolen bases. Ohio DH J.T. Osbourn was twice caught stealing.

West Virginia (22-11, 5-6) continues its road trip on Friday with a stop at Notre Dame for a three-game Big East conference series.

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