Belnome Blasts Bearcats

West Virginia completed a clutch three-game sweep of Cincinnati on Sunday with another booming offensive performance, headed by designated hitter Vince Belnome's 6-6, nine-RBI performance.

Belnome had two three-run homers and devastated Bearcat pitching during his career-best afternoon. The Mountaineers added to their Big East leading offensive totals by pounding out a season-best 20 hits en route to a 18-3 win over the Bearcats. West Virginia scored multiple runs in each of the first four innings in taking command early, and with another strong pitching performance by Billy Gross, were in command from the outset.

West Virginia started off with four runs in the bottom of the first, with the big blast coming on Vince Belnome's three run homer. That hit scored Austin Markel and Jedd Gyorko, who reached base on an HBP and a walk respectively. The Mountaineers added a fourth run when Colin Durburow walked to force in a run. Even though WVU left the bases loaded, the stage was clearly set for more offensive production, and it didn't take long to materialize on the scoreboard. One inning later, WVU used a Gyorko walk, singles from Belnome and Dan DiBartolomeo and another free pass to Grant Buckner to bring home one run and load the bases. Then Joe Agreste, who had a monster series, smoked a three-run double to make the score 8-1.

The onslaught continued in the third, as Justin Parks singled, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Markel, then scored on a Gyorko double. Belnome followed with a single to center to make the score 10-1.

The fourth inning saw another four spot on the board for West Virginia. Durburow was hit by a pitch, moved to second on Parks' single, then came home when Markel's hit to right was misplayed. Belnome cleaned up with another home run, his second three run blast of the game, which made the score 14-1.

UC meekly rallied with two runs in the fifth, making the score 14-3, but West Virginia, as it did throughout the series, responded again. In the sixth, DiBartolomeo doubled home Gyorko, who led off the inning with a hit, and Grant Buckner brought Belnome home with a sacrifice fly, and one inning later Markel doubled home Durburow, who led off the inning with a two bagger, and then came home on Belnome's single to make the score 18-3.

In the meantime, starter Billy Gross was very effective, allowing eight hits and three walks in 7 1/3 innings of work. Gross ensure a well-rested bullpen for the final seek of the regular season by striking out three, allowing just one extra-base hit and forcing UC to chase his choice of pitches. Reliever Andrew Saab came on in the top of the eighth with one out and yielded one single while getting out of a bases-loaded situation with one out. Andy Podolinksi pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to end the contest.

While Belnome's day outshone all others, there were plenty of excellent hitting performances to go around. DiBartolomeo had a 5-6 afternoon, while Parks, Markel Gyorko and Agreste had two hits each. Agreste's three RBI complemented Belnome's total, accounting for two-thirds of WVU's run production.

West Virginia moved to 34-14 overall and 16-8 in the conference, maintaining their hold on third place in the league. Up next for West Virginia is an non-conference game against Youngstown State on Monday, followed by a three-game Thursday-Saturday set against Pitt to close out the season.

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