WLU Baseball Falls in Elimination Game
BECKLEY, W.Va. – The West Liberty University baseball team's Mountain East Conference Tournament run came to an end here Saturday afternoon with an 8-1 loss to regionally-ranked West Virginia State in an elimination game at Linda K. Epling Stadium.
The Yellow Jackets (30-8) punched their ticket to Sunday's championship round with their 30th win of the season while Coach Eric Burkle's Hilltoppers (21-20) hung up the cleats for the final time after posting their seventh 20-win campaign in the last eight full seasons.
Saturday's game started out as a pitchers' duel between WLU's Tyler Blomquist and State's Foster Conis. Blomquist had a solid outing, holding State to just two runs on five hits through the first five innings, but still trailed, 2-0, when he departed after the fifth.
West Liberty finally broke through in the bottom of the frame, loading the bases and getting a one-out RBI single from Zach Hawkins to chase Conis. That cut the lead to 2-1 and left the Black and Gold in position to make some serious hay with the bases still loaded and the top of the order coming up.
Unfortunately for the Hilltoppers, that was all the damage they could muster. State reliever Dane Peterson missed with his first three pitches but battled back to strike out the next batter before yielding the hill to lefty Clark Reese, who fanned the next batter to end the threat and preserve the 2-1 lead.
Reese proved to be virtually unhittable, holding the Black and Gold hitless the rest of the way while striking out six and giving up only one walk to earn the win. Meanwhile, State worked over the WLU bullpen for five runs in the top of the sixth to put the game out of reach.
The Hilltoppers finished with just three hits on the day, Hawkins' RBI single and doubles from Brian Campbell and Chad Matthus.
Mountain East Conference Tournament
(at Beckley, W.Va.)
W.Va. State 8, West Liberty 1
W.Va. State 000 115 010 – 8 10 0
West Liberty 000 010 000 – 1 3 1
WVS: Conis (2SO, 3W), Peterson (5) (1SO, 0W), Reese wp (5) (5SO, 2W) and Massey. Hunt 2D; Stone 2D; Massey 2S, 2rbi; Kline 2S, rbi; Junkins D, 2rbi;
WLU: T.Blomquist lp (2SO, 2W), Brady (6) (0SO, 0W), Pennybacker (6) (3SO, 3W), Aulick (8) (1SO, 1W) and Hawkins, Fike (9). Matthus D; Campbell D; Hawkins S, rbi