WLU Baseball earns first sweep of season versus West Virginia Wesleyan

West Liberty’s baseball team had a week of mixed results and performances, winning three games and losing five. They now hold a 5-7 conference record and have definitely improved since losing 13 straight out of conference games to start the season.

The Hilltoppers kicked off the week with their first sweep of the season, winning 17-9 and 6-5 against West Virginia Wesleyan in Buckhannon on Tuesday. In what were two much-needed wins for WLU, they looked extremely impressive at the plate in the first, scoring their most runs in a single game so far this season, before fending off a late comeback from the Bobcats in the second.

The visitors put together some serious momentum towards the end of the first game, scoring 11 runs in two innings to secure a 12-run win, their largest of the season. Although the second game was not as high scoring, the performance was just as impressive as Head Coach Eric Burkle’s Hilltoppers ground out a single run win to complete the sweep. The pick of the West Liberty performances came from freshman Ryan Talbert, who had a double, two singles and three RBIs.

A tough task against nationally-ranked Slippery Rock then awaited them on Wednesday, with the Toppers unable to continue their momentum, coming away with two shutout losses. Coming off the back of a three-game win streak, this challenging doubleheader came at a good time for them. However, the quality of their out-of-conference opponents turned out to be too much to handle, as WLU failed to score a run across either game. Talbert’s performance was a highlight with two singles in the first game, as Jarrett Delbrugge also chipped in with a double.

With their string of home games continuing, West Liberty returned to MEC action as they split with West Virginia State at Kovalick Field on Saturday. Junior pitcher Justin Pennybacker led the Toppers to a 5-2 win in the first game before the Yellow Jackets replied with a 5-1 win of their own in the second. The junior righthander limited State to just four hits, striking out five and walking three across the doubleheader.

The Yellow Jackets picked up some momentum in the second game, scoring five runs and having 14 hits to finish out the split. This left the Toppers at an even .500 in conference play, going into another home doubleheader against Charleston on Sunday.

In what was a packed week, the Hilltoppers were eager to finish strong and get back in the win column against the Golden Eagles, a team they hadn’t beaten in over four years. Unfortunately, the losing streak continued as a pair of double-digit run wins gave UC their eighth and ninth consecutive wins against the Toppers. The visitors were relentless throughout both games, scoring a staggering 37 runs and 36 hits, which carried them to 5-17 and 3-20 wins.

West Liberty is back in action with back to back doubleheaders against Notre Dame College for the weekend in Avon, Ohio. For more information and to track WLU’s progress, go to hilltoppersports.com.