Huskies Mushed

West Virginia exploded for seven runs in the first inning on its way to an important 10-1 victory over UConn in the opener of a three-game series at Hawley Field on Friday.

The Mountaineers have made a habit of getting out of the gate early in its wins this year, and the pattern was no different in its victory over the visiting Huskies. Seven consecutive hits to start the game in the opening frame resulted in a 7-0 lead after one inning, which provided starting pitcher Josh Whitlock all the runs he needed as WVU secured an important conference victory.

The Mountaineers jumped on UConn starter john Folino right off the bat. Justin Parks singled, moved to third on an error, then came home on Tyler Kuhn's hit. Jedd Gyorko got aboard with a hit of his own, and Vince Belnome doubled both home. Austin Markel and Joe Agreste continued the hit parade with singles, and Jordon Yost followed with another hit to load the bases.

Dan DiBartolomeo ended the hit string with a fielder's choice that scored Markel, and then Parks, batting for the second time in the inning, singled to again load the bases. Kuhn then followed with another hit that scored two more runs to give the Mountaineers the early cushion. In all, WVU sent 12 batters to the plate and had nine hits in the opening frame.

Whitlock, meanwhile, was almost unhittable on the mound in gaining his seventh win of the year. He gave up just two hits to the visitors, and although he did walk five batters, he managed to avoid giving up more than one in any inning other than the seventh, which limited UConn's chances for a rally. He gave up his only run in the third, when a leadoff double and a single brought home the Huskies' only run of the evening.

After Whitlock walked the first two batters in the eighth, Eric Saffell came on to squelch the rally with an inning-ending double play. Saffell allowed two baserunners of his own in the ninth, but again shut the door with two strikeouts to end the game.

West Virginia added three runs in the eighth as Tobias Streich and Parks came home on another Tyler Kuhn two-RBI single. Kuhn then scored the final run of the game by stealing second and romping home on Gyorko's double.

Kuhn finished the day with three hits and five RBI, while Gyork added three hits and one run batted in. Parks, Belnome and Agreste added two hits apiece.

West Virginia (30-11, 9-7) moved into fifth place in the Big East. The Mountaineers hold a one game lead over Louisville (8-8), and trail fourth-place Seton Hall (12-7) by 1 1/2 games. With the win, West Virginia becomes the first league team to reach 30 wins on the season. UConn remains in ninth place in the league (21-23, 7-12), one game out of a playoff spot.

The teams square off again on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. at Hawley Field.

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