Early Starters

West Virginia jumped out to an early lead and held off late Ohio rallies to nail down a 6-4 win on Tuesday at Hawley Field in Morgantown.

West Virginia scored six runs over the first four innings, then withstood scores from Ohio in the sixth and seventh to win its final non-conference game of the regular season. The 6-4 win gave WVU a two-game series sweep over the Bobcats. The Mountaineers downed Ohio 6-1 in Athens on Apr. 18.

WVU's early start was fueled by Justin Jenkins' three-run homer, which plated Adam White and Tyler Kuhn, who led off the game with a single and a walk. The Mountaineers then manufactured another run when Jason Pape singled with two out, stole second, then scored on a throwing error by Ohio pitcher Daniel Weiss.

The Bobcats got one run back in the second on a single, a Billy Gross wild pitch and another hit, but that was all the visitors could muster through the first five innings. Gross allowed just two base runners over the next three frames, and got what proved to be the winning runs in the bottom of the fourth, and once again it was a case of Ohio miscues that contributed.

Justin Parks led off the inning with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch, then advanced to third on the predictable sacrifice bunt. Adam White singled to drive home Parks, then promptly stole second to put himself in scoring postion. Kuhn delivered the insurance run with a hit to bring White around, giving West Virginia a 6-1 lead after four innings.

Ohio didn't back down, however, stringing together three singles for a run in the sixth to make it 6-2, and then really made things interesting in the seventh. A leadoff single brought on WVU reliever Brendan Bergerson, who sandwiched a hit batsman and two singles around a strikeout that resulted in two runs. However, with two on and one out, he induced a comebacker that resulted in a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning.

In the eighth, Trent Ridgely came on and performed the closer's role to perfection, getting all six batters he faced (three on strikeouts) to secure the win.

While West Virginia's pitching wasn't spectacular, it was a solid effort that didn't include many self inflicted wounds. The three Mountaineer hurlers combined for eight strikeouts while giving up just one walk, and did not allow an extra base hit. Gross' six innings of work earned him the win.

At the plate, Jenkins blast was one of his two hits on the evening. White was 2-4, as the pair combined for four of WVU's seven hits. The Mountaineers did not manage a hit over their final four at-bats.

West Virginia now travels to Connecticut for a critical three game series against the Huskies. WVU (7-13) trails eighth place Cincinnati (8-12) by one game and heads UConn (6-12) by the same margin as the teams battle for spots in the Big East tournament. Six teams are within three games of each other as the conference season heads into its final ten days.

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