BUCKHANNON – When and if the West Virginia Wesleyan baseball team qualifies for the Mountain East Conference tournament in four weeks, they will look back these past two days as the turning point that got them in.
While there is still plenty of baseball left to play, the Bobcats took a huge step today in finding a way into the post-season tournament with a doubleheader sweep over the University of Charleston Golden Eagles at Hank Ellis Field.
The Bobcats took game one by an 8-4 margin and then outlasted Charleston in 10 innings in game two by a 7-6 margin.
Wesleyan took three of four games from Charleston during their series.
The wins were huge because Charleston entered the series in third place in the MEC South Division, just one game behind the Bobcats.
They left the Wesleyan campus now a full three-games behind the Bobcats who have a three-game lead over their third-place opponents. Wesleyan rests just one behind South leader Concord. The top three in each division make the post-season tournament.
In game one, Charleston took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first.
Wesleyan tied the game in the bottom of the third with a pair of runs when Keene singled home James Fraser and then later scored on a passed ball.
The Bobcats took their first lead in the bottom of the fifth when Fraser singled home Alex Skinner and later scored on a wild pitch. That treated Wesleyan to a 5-3 lead.
Wesleyan chased across three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.
That pushed the Wesleyan lead to 8-3.
Charleston scored an unearned run in the top of the seventh to wrap up the scoring.
Wesleyan outhit Charleston by a 9-7 margin.
Fraser, Keene and Vega each had three hits.
Jake Bishop improved his mark to 2-5.
He lasted 5 2/3 innings and allowed three earned runs on five hits while striking out five.
Chris Metrick pitched the final 1 1/3 innings and gave up one unearned run on two hits while fanning one.
Game two saw Wesleyan build a 4-0 lead after six innings of play.
Eric Forbrick hit a sacrifice fly that scored Keene in the second; Forbrick had a one-run double and Travis Renner had a sacrifice fly that that scored Forbrick in the fourth, and Forbrick had a one-run single that scored John Koon in the fifth.
A three-run home run by Charleston in the top of the seventh made it a 4-3 game.
A Vega two-run single to center field in the bottom of the seventh upped the Wesleyan advantage to 6-3.
Charleston tied the game with three runs in the top of the eighth.
Wesleyan won the game with an unearned run in the bottom of the 10th.
Smith started the inning with a single to right field and moved all the way to third base on a fielder's choice hit by Fraser and an error.
Koon was intentionally walked to load the bases which brought up Keene, who hit a grounder to second base that was misplayed which allowed Smith to score.
Wesleyan outhit Charleston by a 11-9 margin.
Keene paced the offense with four hits while Forbrick and Vega each had two apiece.
Metrick tossed three innings of relief to get the win.
He improved his record to 3-0 as he gave up two earned runs on three hits and fanned three.
Wesleyan improved to 12-18 overall and 10-6 in the MEC.
They will return to action Tuesday at home when they play Ohio Valley in a non-conference game.
First pitch is set for 1 p.m.
(Photo courtesy of Peter Galarneau Jr.)