Feb. 16, 2013
Wichita, Kan. – The University of Pittsburgh (2-0) baseball team saw all 10 of its batters record a hit en route to 17 total hits and a wild 10-8 victory over Wichita State (0-2) this afternoon at Eck Field.
“I thought we came out again today and did a lot of good things,” said Pitt head coach Joe Jordano. “Offensively we swung the bats well again but left a ton of runners in scoring position. We need to keep grinding and playing hard. We anticipate a very tough game on Sunday.”
Matt Wotherspoon (7.1 IP, 11 H, 6 ER, 6 K) picked up the win for the Panthers who saw three players – Casey Roche, Elvin Soto and Steven Shelinsky Jr. – tally multiple RBIs in the victory. Tanner Wilt, who earned the win in relief on Friday, picked up the save, while A.J. Ladwig (0-1) took the loss.
Pitt came out aggressive with its first three batters swinging at the first pitch. Stephen Vranka drove the first pitch of the game into to deep center but it died up in the wind for an out. Boo Vazquez got the Panthers first hit with a standup double to left center. Roche singled through the left side to put runners at the corners with one out. Unfortunately for the Panthers, WSU starter A.J. Ladwig was able to limit the damage and hold Pitt scoreless with a pair of routine plays to first.
Matt Wotherspoon started his games solidly with a strike out of Cody Bobbit. After the next batter reached on a single to left, Wotherspoon got out of the inning by forcing Casey Gillaspie to ground into a 6-3 double play.
The teams exchanged scoreless halves of the second before Pitt struck first in the third. Vazquez lead off the inning by drawing a walk and then Roche continued his hot start to the season with a bomb to left field for the fourth homerun of his career to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead.
WSU was able to knot the game in the bottom of the fourth when Johnny Coy tripled to left past a diving Vazquez to drive in a run and was driven in by Erik Harbutz. Wotherspoon was able to settle down and get out of the inning with a fielder’s choice and a strikeout.
Pitt responded quickly with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth. Roche got the inning started with a seeing eye single to center. Sam Parente followed with single of his own to put runners on the corners with one out to chase Ladwig from the game. With a new pitcher in, WSU tried for a third-to-first pick off play and got burned as Roche alertly sprinted home, with Parente caught in a rundown, scoring before the throw and allowing Parente to reach second in a play scored as a double steal thanks to the heads up running. A.J. Lardo added to the lead with single that snuck by the Shocker second baseman to again give the Panthers a two-run lead at 4-2.
Wichita State looked to respond with a lead-off double in the bottom of the inning but Wotherspoon was able to pitch out of the jam with a pair of groundouts and a weak liner to short.
The Panthers pushed their advantage to 7-2 in the visitor’s half of the sixth. Evan Oswald led off the inning with a single through the left side to end Albert Minnis’ day after two thirds of an inning’s work. Vranka followed up with a single of his own. A passed ball on a strikeout allowed the Pitt baserunners to advance to second and third with one out. With the red hot Roche in the batter’s box, WSU decided to issue a free pass to load the bases. Parente chopped a 2-2 pitch to the pitcher’s mound but the only play was at first allowing Pitt to score a run and to keep the inning going. Soto took advantage and ripped the next pitch into right field for a two RBI single chasing Minnis from the game after a third of an inning and giving the Panthers a five run advantage.
After Wotherspoon retired the side in order in the bottom of the sixth, the Pitt offense went back to work and got an additional two runs when Steven Shelinsky Jr., pinch hitting for Vazquez, hit a monster home run to left field. The homer, which extended the lead to 9-2, was the first of Shelinsky’s career
The Shockers were able to cut into the lead in the seventh scoring a pair of runs with two outs to make the score 9-4 going into the eighth. In the eighth, WSU again got on the board scoring three additional runs to cut the Pitt lead to 9-7.
Roche gave the Panthers an insurance run in the top of the ninth when, with the bases loaded and one out, he hit a sharp grounder to short and easily beat out the throw to first on the fielder’s choice giving Pitt a 10-7 lead going into the bottom of the ninth.
Wichita State would not relent however and started the ninth with its first three runners reaching base including Coy who reached on an error which allowed a run to score cutting the lead to 10-8. The Coy at-bat placed Shockers at the corners with no outs prompting Jordano to call to the pen for Wilt. With the tying run on base, Wilt got Josh Harbutz to swing at the first pitch and line it to Oswald at short who rifled it over to first for a clutch double play. With WSU down to its final out, Wilt forced a routine grounder to second to end the game and pin down the save.
“I thought we handled the late run by Wichita fairly well,” Jordano said. “They can swing the bats and we were on the ropes in the ninth but Tanner came in and we were in the right position defensively and made a big play.”
The Panthers will look to wrap up the series sweep tomorrow at 2 p.m. ET. Junior right hander Rhys Aldenhoven will take the mound for his Pitt debut and will be countered by Wichita State left hander Kris Gardner.
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