Seton Hall Stays Hot, Beats West Virginia In BIG EAST Championship

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Catcher Frank Esposito went 3-for-5 and the Seton Hall lineup made the most of 13 hits as the Pirates took a 10-4 win against West Virginia Wednesday night in the first round of the BIG EAST Baseball Championship at Bright House Field. The Pirates - seeded No. 5 in the tournament - advanced in the winners' bracket, where they will face the winner of Wednesday's fourth first-round game between Connecticut and Notre Dame at 8 p.m. Thursday. The fourth-seeded Mountaineers will face the loser of that game Thursday at 5 p.m. in an elimination game. Both teams finished with 13 hits, but the Pirates were able to take advantage of two doubles, three triples and seven walks to pick up their fifth straight win. West Virginia had 13 singles and drew only three walks against Seton Hall pitching. Seton Hall staked starting pitcher Joe DiRocco to an early eight-run lead and DiRocco made it stand up, allowing three runs and nine hits in seven innings to improve to 7-1 on the year. The Pirates, who entered the game ranked 11th in the BIG EAST in batting (.245), scored four runs in the first inning, taking advantage of two walks, three hits and a catcher's interference. Shortstop A.J. Rusbarsky delivered the big blow with a two-run single and rightfielder Will Walsh followed with a fielder's choice that allowed Giuseppe Papaccio to score from third and make it 4-0. Walsh hit a one-out triple in the bottom of the third and came home on Esposito's double to make it 5-0. A walk, a base hit, a balk and a sacrifice fly pushed the lead to 7-0 before first baseman Sean Gusrang smacked the Pirates' second triple of the inning to score Zack Granite and give Seton Hall and eight-run lead. West Virginia got on the board in the bottom of the fifth when Dan DiBartolomeo's RBI single brought in Matt Malloy, who had led off the inning with a base hit. The Mountaineers loaded the bases to start the bottom of the sixth and came away with two more runs on Isac Franklin's grounder to first and a sacrifice fly by Malloy to make it 8-3. The Mountaineers saw four straight batters get base hits with one out in the eighth inning, including a a bases-loaded infield hit by centerfielder Mark Dvoroznak that made it 8-4. That put leadoff hitter Brady Wilson at the plate representing the tying run, but Wilson hit a sharp line drive to shortstop and Rusbarsky doubled Dvoroznak off at first to end the inning. The Pirates added a pair of insurance runs in the top of the ninth, including an RBI triple by Esposito. Walsh went 2-for-5 with an RBI, while Gusrang was 2-for-5 with two RBI for Seton Hall, which improved to 30-23. West Virginia had five players with two hits as the Mountaineers fell to 28-26. Marshall Thompson took the loss for West Virginia, falling to 5-4 after allowing four runs in 1.2 innings.