BASEBALL GU Takes One of Three From WVU By Mark Mulvanny Hoya Staff Writer

Saturday’s doubleheader against West Virginia was both a blessing and a curse for the Georgetown baseball team. The Hoyas pitched well in both games but were able to come away with only one win, a 6-3 victory in the second game. They managed only three hits in the first contest and lost 4-0.

The deciding game on Sunday was a frustrating outing for Georgetown’s sophomore righthander Kevin Field (1-4). The Hoyas’ starter went six innings allowing seven hits and seven runs as his team fell 8-2.

Despite snapping a five game losing streak with their win Saturday, the Hoyas lost the series to the Mountaineers 1-2. This drops Georgetown’s Big East record to 2-4 and the team’s overall record to 7-21.

These two Big East squads began the three game set with startling alacrity on Saturday. The teams combined for only 11 base hits in a game that lasted a little over 90 minutes.

The Hoyas were only able to contribute three of these hits. Georgetown faced a dominant power pitcher in West Virginia’s junior righthander Billy Biggs (3-3). Biggs uses the traditional fastball/slider combination along with his newer changeup to strike out 10.36 batters per nine innings.

Biggs also showed excellent control as he failed to surrender a walk. The junior Mountaineer gave up only two singles and only one extra-base hit, a double in the seventh to Ron Cano, in a complete game victory. This is a typical performance for Biggs as opponents are hitting .220 against the righthander this season.

West Virginia’s starter was backed up by consistent hitting. After a scoreless first, the Mountaineers got a quick 2-0 lead after freshman infielder Grant Psomas was driven in by a two-run homer from senior leftfielder Dallas Crews.

Georgetown bounced back in the bottom half of the second frame with its first real scoring threat. Sophmore centerfielder Carlos Gazitua continued his excellent hitting this week with a lead-off single. A rare passed ball surrendered by the Mountaineer defense moved the runner to second and a groundout by sophomore catcher ichael Lombardi advanced Gazitua to third.

Biggs then showed his composure as he faced two younger Hoyas. Biggs struck out freshman first baseman James Supple and got a groundout to freshman rightfielder Bill Quinn.

After this initial threat, Biggs settled down and shut down the Hoyas while his offense scored the runs. The Mountaineers tacked on two more runs, one in the fourth and another in the fifth, courtesy of an RBI single from Crews and an RBI double from sophomore first basemen Kurtis Clinton.

West Virginia took the early lead and cruised the rest of the way. Hoya sophomore third basemen Ron Cano provided the only Georgetown offense with a single in the fourth and a double in the seventh. Cano was left stranded in both innings.

The loss was not without its upside as the Hoyas got an excellent outing from freshman righthander Tony Pena. Pena pitched the entire game surrendering only four runs, eight hits and one walk. This is the type of outing the team is looking for from its younger starters.

In Saturday’s second game, Georgetown turned to its ace and got the win. Senior lefthander Eric Sutton (4-3) gave the Hoyas the win they needed to stop a five-game skid with an outing one batter short of a complete game.

Sutton earned team pitcher of the week honors for the second consecutive week with a five-strikeout day in which he only surrendered three runs and eight hits. Sutton’s selection as pitcher of the week should come as no surprise to a team that has depended on the captain all season.

“We are only getting success out of one starting pitcher,” Head Coach Pete Wilk said.

Sutton began Saturday’s game by holding the Mountaineers scoreless through the first two innings. He forced West Virginia to keep the ball in the infield and getting strikeouts when necessary. Sutton surrendered two runs on singles in the third and the fifth to Mountaineer shortstop Eric Grimm and centerfielder Mike Frownfelter.

Sutton did not face a serious challenge until the ninth. Sutton’s dominance was challenged from the start of the inning with a series of West Virginia base hits. A Mountaineer run scored and three men stood on base with two outs when the dust settled.

With the bases loaded and two out in the ninth, Wilk gave the ball to junior reliever Pat Salvitti. Salvitti delivered the win and earned his first save this season by forcing a groundout from ountaineer power hitter Dallas Crews.

“Salvitti’s pitching himself into a major role on this staff,” Wilk said.

The Hoya offense put Sutton in a position to win with a five run fifth inning. Down 2-0, Georgetown played efficient, smart baseball scoring the five runs on only three hits. In the fifth, the Hoyas used sacrifices and a Mountaineer error to score runs. Georgetown added two singles to a two RBI triple by player of the week Carlos Gazitua in a big inning for the Hoyas.

Gazitua’s selection as player of the week comes as a result of his consistent production not only in the weekend games against West Virginia but also in the week’s two game set against Columbia. The sophomore hit .412 this week and drove in seven runs.

Gazitua played well again on Sunday going 1-3 with a run scored, but his production along with James Supple’s 2-4 day was not enough to overcome another dominant Mountaineer pitcher.

Six foot seven-inch West Virginia junior Dustin Nippert gave up only five Hoya hits as he struck out eight. Nippert’s tendency to throw wild pitches gave the Hoyas a run in the second bolstered by a second on a fielder’s choice in the seventh. However, two runs were all Georgetown was able to score against the 205-pound starter.

The Hoyas had a formidable starter as well in 6-foot-5 and 215-lb. sophomore Kevin Field (1-4). Unfortunately Field’s outing did not resemble Nippert’s. Field began the game by surrendering a run in the second on an RBI bunt by Mountaineer centerfielder Mike Frownfelter.

West Virginia did the majority of its damage to Field in two three-run innings, the third and the seventh. In the third, Field dispatched the first two Mountaineers with relative ease, striking out the first and forcing the second to pop up to Hoya leftfielder John Blodgett. Field had trouble ending the inning as the righthander surrendered three runs on two RBI singles.

The seventh inning was chaos. Before being replaced with reliever Tony Pena, Field hit the first batter and walked the next two. Pena then surrendered one more walk and four stolen bases. Georgetown gave up the inning’s three runs without giving up another base hit. The inning featured two RBI sacrifices and a rare steal of home plate by Mountaineer lead-off man Chad Blevins.

West Virginia added another insurance run in the eighth on Blevin’s RBI double to bring the final score to 8-2. Georgetown’s loss was due in part to the inconsistency of Hoya starters other than Eric Sutton. The Hoyas look for more steady production from the teams younger starters in the games ahead.

“Pena and Field have a lot of talent. Hopefully they can help us turn the corner this season,” Wilk said.

Fans were reminded of issues larger than baseball at Shirley Povich field on Saturday. Half an hour before the Hoyas’ doubleheader with West Virginia began University President John D. DeGioia took part in a ceremony honoring local police and firefighters. DeGioia and four area firefighters threw out the honorary first pitches before the game.

Georgetown continues its homestand on Wednesday at 3 p.m. against UMBC. Over the break the Hoyas will play doubleheaders on Thursday March 28 and Saturday March 30 beginning at noon.

Both doubleheaders are Big East matchups. Villanova comes to Cabin John Park in Bethesda, Md. on Thursday, and on Friday the Hoyas meet a talented Notre Dame team.

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