March 1, 2003
KNOXVILLE -- Brandon Halstead's four-hitter spoiled Tennessee's attempt at its school record ninth victory to start the season as West Virginia dealt the Vols a 3-1 loss Saturday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The freshman right-hander went the distance for the Mountaineers in only his second career start.
West Virginia, 3-3, grabbed the lead for keeps with a pair of runs in the fourth. Kurtis Clinton belted a two-out, solo homer to left that started the winning rally off Tennessee starter Ben Riley (1-1). Tim McCabe followed with a single before Grant Psomas doubled him home for a 2-1 advantage.
The Mountaineers added a single score in the fifth. Leadoff hitter Jarod Rine bunted and reached second base when Vols first sacker Kyle Norrid could not handle Riley's peg. Casey Bowling followed with a single that advanced Rine to third, from where he scored on Lee Fritz's sacrifice fly.
Tennessee, 8-1, struck for its lone tally in the bottom of the first. Jordan Czarniecki was hit by a pitch and advanced on a ground out. After stealing third, Czarniecki scored easily when Brian Cleveland grounded to short.
But the Vols could not take advantage of a trio of decent scoring chances over the middle frames, when they had two runners on base in each of the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Tennessee went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position for the game.
Halstead (2-0) beat Fordham last Sunday in his first collegiate start, scattering five runs over six innings. This time out, the right-hander walked three and struck out three. For Tennessee, Riley allowed three runs, two earned, on six hits over five innings. Joey Andrews was sharp in his three innings of relief, permitting only a single.
The Mountaineers nearly added a fourth run in the ninth off UT's Luke Hochevar. With two out, Travis D'Amico reached on Tennessee's third error of the game and streaked for home when Rine belted a double off the wall in right center. But Tennessee's relay from Michael Rivera to Walter Sevilla to Javi Herrera was perfect and D'Amico was out at the plate. The game was played in two hours, eight minutes.
The Vols, who were looking to break a tie with the 1992 team for best start in school history, fell to 2-1 on their current nine-game homestand. The finale of this weekend's two-game series takes place Sunday at 2 p.m.