Hopes Dimming

West Virginia's offense was held in check in a 5-0 loss to UConn that put WVU further behind the eight ball in its quest for a Big East tournament berth.

Connecticut pitcher Mike Tarsi produced just the second shutout of West Virginia this year as he scattered seven hits in an excellent complete game effort. Tarsi struck out eight and did not walk a batter as he held the Big East's best offense in check.

Tarsi hit one batter, but allowed just one extra base hit. After weathering WVU scoring chances in the first and second innings, Tarsi settled down to keep the potent Mountaineer lineup off the scoreboard.

Mountaineer pitcher Josh Whitlock battled for eight innings, but without any support it was an uphill fight. After yielding a leadoff homer in the bottom of the third, Whitlock settled in to contain the Huskies over the next three innings. However, in the seventh, things fell apart, and as is typical in the college game, it was miscues that set up the trouble.

Whitlock, who to that point had not walked a batter, issued free passes to the first two Huskie batters. One out later, number nine hitter Harold Brantley delivered a two-run single that pushed the margin to 3-0. It was UConn's only hit of the inning, but the key knock put the Huskies into the driver's seat.

One inning later, Connecticut added two insurance runs, and again it was the bottom of the order doing the damage. Number seven hitter Matt Burnett produced a sacrifice fly while Pat Mahoney, in the eight hole, singled to drive in the final run.

With the loss, WVU (7-14) falls a full game behind the Huskies (7-12), and needs to win both of the remaining games in the series in order to move ahead of UConn and capture the tiebreaker. West Virginia is now in tenth place in the league. The two teams square off again on Saturday at noon.

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