Split Keeps Baseball On Track For Tourney

West Virginia's Saturday doubleheader split with Louisville kept the Mountaineers in sixth place in the league and two games ahead of three other teams vying for the final two tournament spots.

The Mountaineers, facing the possibility of a collapse after losing its fourth consecutive conference game in the opener of the doubleheader, rallied for a 5-2 win in the nightcap. That win not only snapped WVU's skid, but also broke Louisville's ten game winning streak.

The win elevated to WVU to 12-11 in the league, giving it a two game edge over Villanova, South Florida and Rutgers, who are all at 10-13.

With four league games remaining, WVU is not out of the woods yet, as it has a single game with the Cardinals and a three-game set at always strong Cincinnati next week. However, USF (vs. Notre Dame) Rutgers (vs. Louisville) and Villanova (vs. St. John's) also have very difficult season-ending series, so if the Mountaineers can manage one more win over its final four league games, it should be in good shape to make the post season tournament.

In the opener, Louisville used three home runs to build a 6-2 lead before holding off a Mountaineer rally attempt in the ninth. After seeing the visitors take an early 4-0 advantage, West Virginia finally got on the board in the sixth inning. Jedd Gyorko and Vince Belnome singled, then Austin Markel and Jordon Yost were both hit by pitches to force in a run, but WVU couldn't capitalize further with the bases loaded. That was to become a pattern in game one, as the Mountaineers left 11 runners on base in the contest.

One inning later, Justin Parks singled, moved to second on an error and came home on Belnome's hit to make the score 4-2.

Louisville, however, responded with another long ball in the top of the eighth to push the lead out to 6-2. West Virginia wasn't finished, loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth, but a game-ending double play ended any chances of a comeback.

WVU Starter Josh Whitlock gave up five earned runs on ten hits, but showed good control as he walked just one batter against seven strikeouts. suffered his fifth loss of the season, allowing five runs on 10 hits, striking out seven and walking one in 7.1 innings of work.

Faced with the possibility of dropping into contact with the teams battling for the final two tournament spots, West Virginia responded with a 5-2 win in the nightcap. Matt Yurish tossed a complete game (his first of the season), and battled through several Cardinal scoring situations to allow just two runs (one earned), while striking out nine. He stranded eight Louisville baserunners.

Louisville again got on top early, courtesy of an unearned run, to take a 1-0 lead in the first, but Yurish set the tone for the rest of the contest by getting a strikeout with two runners on to minimize the damage. He then proceeded to shut the Cardinals out over the next seven innings.

Meanwhile, West Virginia did what it could not do in the opener -- take advantage of scoring opportunities. In the third, Joe Agreste singled, Jordon Yost walked and Tobias Streich reached on a fielder's choice which forced Agreste out at third. Freshman Mark Dvoroznak singled in Yost and moved to second on the play at the plate, and Justin Parks followed with a bunt single that scored Streich. Tyler Kuhn then finished the scoring with another single that brought Dvoroznak home to push the WVU lead to 3-1.

One inning later, Markel tripled and scored on a throwing error to increase WVU's lead to 4-1, and the Mountaineers increased it again in the fourth as Dvoroznak walked, moved to third on an outfield error, then came home on a wild pitch to make it 5-1.

Louisville got on the board again in the eighth as it manufactured a run with a hit, a wild pitch, a fielder's choice and a sacrifice fly, but could not produce any more offense in the 5-2 loss.

The teams meet again in the final game of the series on Sunday at noon.

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