Wheeling pounds West Liberty in regular-season finale, 24-0
WHEELING, W.Va. (May 10) - The Wheeling University baseball team exploded for a 24-0 win at West Liberty to close out the 2021 regular season Monday afternoon. The second game was canceled due to unplayable conditions on the field.
The Cardinals were dealt a pair of losses late Saturday night at the JB Chambers I-470 Complex to begin the series. West Liberty took the opener 4-1, before claiming a 7-3 win in extra innings in the nightcap.
The Cardinals enter the Mountain East Conference (MEC) Tournament at 27-12 overall, 22-9 in league play, and winners of the MEC North Division. Wheeling will play Concord in an opening round game on Thursday, May 13 in Beckley, West Virginia. First-pitch is slated for 3:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Hilltoppers enter the MEC Tournament as the No. 2 seed in the North with a record of 20-18 overall, 18-13 in MEC play.
The Cardinals buried the Hilltoppers 24-0 in the lone game on Monday.
Sophomore Lucas Rawlins (Pickerington, Ohio/Bishop Hartley) got the parade started with a two-RBI single in the second inning, before RBIs by seniors Francisco Morales (Dorado, Puerto Rico/Colegio Laico de Levittown) and Luis Dominguez (Bronx, N.Y./Cardinal Spellman) made the score 5-0.
Wheeling broke the game open in the third inning with seven runs on four hits to take a 12-0 lead. The Cardinals added two more in the fourth, four in the fifth and six in the seventh.
Wheeling senior Hayden Hizer (Paden City, W.Va./Paden City) put the finishing touches on the contest with a grand slam in the seventh inning.
Six Cardinal pitchers combined to post the first shutout of the season. The Wheeling staff limited West Liberty to six hits and struck out eight in the win. Junior pitcher Albert Baez (Fort Worth, Texas/Timber Creek) posted the only perfect inning out of the bullpen and was credited with his team-leading sixth win of the season.
Seven Wheeling players posted multiple hits, with nine different players driving in runs. Dominguez extended his hitting-streak to 23 games and finished 4-for-5 with four RBIs to lead the team. Morales, Rawlins and sophomore Jacob Murray (Bealsville, Ohio/Linsly) each drove in three runs.
Wheeling was limited to one hit in the series opening 4-1 loss Saturday night.
West Liberty broke the scoreless tie with a bases loaded walk in the third and added two more in the fourth and one in the fifth to take a 4-0 lead.
The Cardinals lone run came around to score off of a wild pitch in the seventh inning.
West Liberty's Logan Grimm tossed the complete game and limited the Cards to one run on one hit with nine strikeouts.
Wheeling junior pitcher Logan Pillars (Rock Falls, Ill./Rock Falls) was tagged with the loss. He went five innings and allowed four runs on six hits with a trio of strikeouts.
The Hilltoppers completed the two-game sweep on the Cardinals home field with a 7-3 win in extra innings that extending into Sunday morning.
Wheeling got off to a better start, plating two runs to take the lead in the first inning.
West Liberty belted home runs in the second and third innings to take the lead, but a sacrifice fly by Watt tied the game back up in the bottom of the third at 3-3.
Wheeling put runners on first and third with no outs and appeared to have taken a 6-3 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning when junior Chris Iazzetta (Clinton, N.J./IMG Academy) blasted a ball into the night sky down the left field line. However, the plate umpire ruled that the ball was foul and Iazzetta returned to the batter's box. Iazzetta and the next two batters were all retired on strikeouts to end the threat.
Neither team scored in the seventh, sending the game into the eighth. West Liberty put each of the first three batters on base, before a home run put the Hilltoppers out in front 7-3. The Cardinals had the potential game-tying run in the on-deck circle, but West Liberty managed to escape with the win.
Iazzetta led the team with a double and a RBI in the loss. Murray had a hit, drew three walks, and scored twice.
Wheeling will play Concord in an opening round MEC Tournament game on Thursday, May 13 in Beckley, West Virginia. First-pitch is slated for 3:30 p.m.