WVU wins on Carpenter’s grand slam

WVU catcher David Carpenter

Catcher David Carpenter capped a five-run eighth inning with a grand-slam home run Tuesday evening to give West Virginia a 5-3 come-from-behind victory over St. John’s.

That thrilling triumph moved the fifth-seeded Mountaineers (36-20) into the second round of the Big East championship baseball tournament at Bright House Networks Field.

WVU will play the winner of the day’s final game between No. 1-seeded Notre Dame and No. 8 USF in the second round at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

St. John’s, the No. 4 seed, dropped into the consolation bracket. The Red Storm’s record now is 37-18.

Left-hander Kenny Durst pitched eight innings to earn his fifth victory in nine decisions. The sophomore scattered eight hits, struck out six and walked five.

Dan Leatherman took over after Durst walked the leadoff batter in the ninth. He retired the next three batters — two on strikeouts — for his fourth save.

Will Vogl and Chris Anninos hit solo home runs in the second and fifth innings as St. John’s took a 3-0 lead. Chris Anninos got the other RBI on a single.

St. John’s starter Scott Barnes was sailing along with a career-high 11 strikeouts when the Mountaineer batters finally erupted.

With one out, Barnes gave up consecutive singles to Justin Jenkins, Stan Posluszny and Kyle Matuszek, with Jenkins scoring WVU’s first run.

Then reliever Rich Armento (1-3) walked Casey Bowling to load the bases, and Carpenter, an East Fairmont graduate, planted a second pitch over the fence.

That was his only hit of the game, but the blast couldn’t have been more timely.

“The first pitch looked like a change-up, and he came back with the same pitch,” Carpenter said. “I got a pretty good swing on it.

“I hoped to get something in the middle and in, and he put the pitch right there. It really felt good.”

He admittedly had “struggled in my first three at-bats.”

Carpenter noted that Barnes “had us baffled for the longest time. He threw all three of his pitches for strikes. Getting him out of the game was the big thing.”

Durst said, “I started using my curveball well in the late part of the game. My change-up wasn’t really that good.

“But I pretty much had everything working as the game moved along. The hot weather helped me get loose.

“They hit me hard a couple of times. But I tried to keep us in the game. I knew the hitters would come through eventually.”

Matuszek and Bowling were the only Mountaineers to get as many as two hits, Bowling in three at-bats.

WVU coach Greg Van Zant said Matt Yurish will be the starter Tuesday night. The sophomore southpaw from Martinsburg has a 5-2 record and 3.57 ERA.

“I think I’ll be able to do pretty well,” he said. “I don’t really see any problem.”

He threw 120 pitches in a 5-3 victory over USF last Friday night at home.

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