Hilltopper Baseball Takes Two from Wheeling
WHEELING, W.Va. – The West Liberty University baseball team swept a Mountain East Conference North Division doubleheader from division-leading Wheeling in thrilling fashion here under the lights at the J.B. Chambers I-470 Complex.
Coach Eric Burkle's Hilltoppers (20-17, 18-12) handed the Cardinals (26-12, 21-9) a 4-1 loss in the opener before completing the sweep with a 7-3 decision in an 8-inning marathon that didn't end until well after midnight.
In the first game, Jack Skantze legged out an infield hit to lead off the bottom of the first for Wheeling but that was the only hit surrendered by WLU's Logan Grimm in a masterful performance.
Grimm struck out nine Cardinal batters and gave up three bases on balls in pitching his third complete game of the season. A pair of walks combined with a fielder’s choice and a wild pitch to foil his shutout bid in the bottom of the seventh but he escaped with no further damage to improve to 5-2 on the year.
West Liberty broke the scoring ice in the top of the third when Ty Helmke worked a bases-loaded walk. Jarrett Delbrugge ripped an RBI double in the third and scored on Colton Coss' two-out RBI base knock to make it 3-0. The Hilltoppers added an unearned run in the fourth to conclude the scoring.
Coss had two of WLU's six hits while Ross Salvatori had the only extra-base hit of the game, a leadoff double in the top of the fourth.
The Hilltoppers managed only four hits in the nightcap but three of them left the yard.
Jason Schutte belted a two-run homer in the top of the second and Helmke added a solo blast in the third to forge a 3-all tie. Some outstanding bullpen work from both teams prevented any further scoring until the eighth.
A walk and hit-by-pitch gave West Liberty runners on first and second to start the eighth and a double-steal put both runners in scoring position. An infield error allowed both runners to score for a 5-3 Hilltopper lead and Kaden Blomquist followed with a two-run bomb over the right field wall to put the game out of reach.
Wheeling got a couple of runners on base with one out in the bottom of the inning but reliever Sam Aulick sent the Black and Gold fans home happy with a strikeout and fly ball to finish off the sweep.
Aulick, who had struck out the side in the bottom of the sixth after coming on in relief with the bases loaded and no outs, blanked the hosts over the final three innings to earn the win.
The Ohio County rivals will close out the regular season on Monday with a 1 p.m. doubleheader at West Liberty.
West Liberty 4, Wheeling 0
West Liberty 001 210 0 – 4 6 0
Wheeling 000 000 1 – 1 1 0
WLU: Grimm wp (9SO, 3W) and Rine. Coss 2S, rbi; Delbrugge D, rbi; Helmke S, rbi; Salvatori D
WU: Pillars lp (3SO, 5W), Shaw (6) (2SO, 2W) and Morales. Skantze S
West Liberty 7, Wheeling 3
West Liberty 021 000 04 – 7 4 2
Wheeling 201 000 00 – 3 4 3
WLU: Pennybacker (2SO, 3W), T.Blomquist (3) (5SO, 4W), Aulick wp (6) (5SO, 3W) and Hawkins. K.Blomquist HR, 2rbi; Schutte HR, 2rbi; Helmke HR, rbi
WU: Pinsker (6SO, 2W), Madden lp (5) (5SO, 1W), Luciano (8) (1SO, 0W) and Morales. Iazzetta D, rbi