Wheeling splits series with Alderson Broaddus to clinch MEC North Division
PHILIPPI, W.Va. (May 2) - The Wheeling University baseball team clinched the Mountain East Conference (MEC) North Division with a series split with Alderson Broaddus Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
The Cardinals (26-10, 21-7 MEC) have secured a spot in the upcoming Mountain East Conference (MEC) Tournament for the first time in program history. Wheeling has not appeared in the post-season since the 2011 West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) Tournament.
Third-year Head Coach Ryan Lewicki's Wheeling team got a 10-7 win in game three of the series on Sunday to clinch the MEC North title, before falling 6-5 on a walk-off in the series finale.
Junior Chris Iazzetta (Clinton, N.J./IMG Academy) got the Cardinals on the board in the second inning with a two-run home run in game three.
Alderson Broaddus (15-15, 14-13 MEC) rallied back with four runs in the bottom of the second , but Wheeling answered right back. Iazzetta drove home another run, before sophomore Jacob Murray (Beallsville, Ohio/Linsly) and junior Connor Watt (Roanoke, Va./Glenvar) connected on back-to-back home runs to make the score 6-4.
The Cardinals pushed their lead to 10-6 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. The Battlers managed to get one run on a home run, but did not get any closer to allow Wheeling to clinch the division title.
Sophomore pitcher Jared Naida (Cleveland, Ohio/Lakewood) went 5.0 innings and allowed six runs (three earned) on nine hits with a pair of strikeouts.
Iazzetta led the bats with two hits, a home run and three RBIs. Junior Jack Skantze (Clearwater, Fla./Countryside) added two hits and two RBIs.
Wheeling took a 5-2 lead into the bottom of the seventh in the series finale on Sunday, but a walk-off grand slam dealt the Cardinals a split with a 6-5 loss.
Wheeling took a 3-0 lead in the third inning on a RBI-triple by senior Hayden Hizer (Paden City, W.Va./Paden City) and a RBI-single by Skantze.
RBI base hits by junior Franciscon Morales (Dorado, Puerto Rico/Colegio Laico de Levittown) and sophomore Riley Cameron (Vass, N.C./Union Pines) made the score 5-2 heading into the seventh inning.
AB loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh. After a strikeout, Battler first baseman Taylor Cook connected on a grand slam to end the game.
Junior pitcher Jake Rife (Irwin, Pa./Hempfield) yielded just two runs on three hits with three strikeouts over 4.0 innings, but was saddled with a no-decision.
The Cardinals opened the series with a split on Saturday afternoon. The Cardinals dropped the opener 8-4, but rebounded for a 26-8 thrashing of the Battlers in game two.
Wheeling smacked 22 hits and scored 26 runs in a huge bounce-back win in game two of the series.
The Cardinals sent 16 batters to the plate in an 11-run third inning. After RBI singles by senior Luis Dominguez (Bronx, N.Y./Cardinal Spellman) and Iazzetta made the score 3-0, Murray came to the dish and connected on a three-run home run.
Dominguez and Iazzetta both came back to the plate later in the inning and produced RBI base hits once again to make the score 11-0.
Wheeling tacked on five more runs in the fourth inning to extend the lead to 16-1. The Cardinals scored one in the fifth, four in the sixth and five more in the seventh to run away with the win.
Dominguez was phenomenal at the plate for the Cards. He went 5-for-5 with three doubles, seven RBIs, three runs scored and two walks drawn. Earlier in the day Dominguez received his degree at Wheeling's commencement ceremony and drove to Philippi to start game two.
Murray posted three hits, including a home run, with four RBIs and three runs scored. Junior Blake Vandiver (Alton, Ill./Roxana) had four hits, four RBIs and four runs scored. Iazzetta drove in three runs on two hits, while Morales and redshirt-freshman Pete Toula (Sagamore Hills, Ohio/Nordonia) each added two RBIs.
Sophomore pitcher Connor Pinsker (Highland, Ill./Highland) earned the win after throwing 5.2 innings and yielding seven runs (three earned) on 12 hits with five strikeouts.
Alderson Broaddus jumped on the Cardinals in the first inning to earn an 8-4 win in the series opener on Saturday.
Iazzetta gave the Cardinals the lead in the first inning on a two-out RBI-single, but a five-run first by the Battlers put the home team out in front.
A lead-off home run by Cameron and a pair of runs with the help of an error in the fourth inning sliced the deficit down to 5-4. Alderson Broaddus scored in the bottom of the fourth and sixth innings and limited Wheeling to one hit over the final three innings to secure the opener.
Cameron led the team with two hits, including a home run. Wheeling was limited to five hits in the loss.
The Cardinals will wrap up the regular-season with a split-series against West Liberty next weekend. Wheeling will travel to West Liberty on Friday, May 7 for a doubleheader, before welcoming the Hilltoppers to the JB Chambers Complex on Sunday, May 9 to conclude the series. Games on both dates are slated to begin at 1 p.m.