Feb. 17, 2013
Wichita, Kan. – The University of Pittsburgh (3-0) baseball jumped out to an early 6-0 lead after one inning and never looked back en route to an 11-3 victory and series sweep of No. 32 Wichita State (0-3) this afternoon at Eck Field.
“We played very well as a team this weekend,” said head coach Joe Jordano. “For us to sweep such a storied program as Wichita State is a great accomplishment but I know this team is looking forward to getting back to practice on Tuesday and preparing for our next opportunity.”
The sweep marked the first time that WSU had been swept in a three game home series in 43 years (1970 vs. Creighton). Additionally, prior to the series with the Panthers, legendary Shocker head coach Gene Stephenson had not lost a home game in the month of February during his 35 year tenure in Wichita.
The Pitt bats were hot again on Sunday as nine batters tallied hits, including multi-hit outings from Casey Roche, Sam Parente, A.J. Lardo and Eric Hess. For the series, the Panthers outhit the Shockers 45-26 and outscored the home team by a 27-15 margin.
Rhys Aldenhoven (1-0) picked up the win in his Pitt debut going a solid 6.1 innings allowing only one run on four hits with three strikeouts. Tobin Mateychick (0-1) took the loss for the Shockers after giving up six runs on two hits in a 0.1 inning of work.
For the third consecutive game, the Panthers jumped on WSU’s starter early. Stephen Vranka drew a leadoff walk to get the game started for the Pitt offense. Boo Vazquez followed with a single to left and the two advanced to second and third on a double steal brining the red hot Roche to the dish. Roche was able to battle from down in the count, foul off a few 3-2 pitches, and draw a walk to load the bases with no outs. After a harmless popup to first gave the Shockers their first out of the game, Lardo was hit by a pitch to drive in the game’s first run. Elvin Soto coaxed a five-pitch walk to push the Pitt lead to 2-0. With the bases loaded and Wichita State starter Mateychick struggling to find the plate Jordano urged Hess to wait for his pitch and that’s exactly what he did, turning on a 2-1 fastball and crushing it into the rightfield picnic area for a grand slam which gave Pitt a 6-0 lead and marked the end of the day for Mateychick after a third of an inning. Drew Palmer came out of the pen and was able to secure the final two outs of the frame where the Panthers batted around.
With the 6-0 cushion, Aldenhoven was able to throw his pitches and make quick work of the Shockers in the first inning needing only nine pitches to retire the side in order.
Pitt added an additional run in the second when Roche rocketed the first pitch he saw from Palmer off the scoreboard in deep left for his second homerun in as many days pushing the lead to 7-0. Roche finished the opening weekend with an impressive .571 average, eight hits, seven RBI and two home runs.
From there, the pitchers seemed to settle in putting up zeros for the next three innings before the Panthers struck again in the top of the sixth inning. Evan Oswald bunted for a single to the pitcher and advanced to third on a pair of errors. Palmer was able to get Vranka to pop out to third before he was pulled when the Panthers pinch hit Steven Shelinsky Jr. for Vazquez. With Garrett Brummett now on the mound for WSU, Shelinsky drew a walk to put runners on the corners. Following an out, Brummett went for a third-to-first pickoff move and for the second-straight day it came back to bite the Shockers as the throw was mishandled by the shortstop allowing Oswald to score. Brummett was able to get out of the inning but the Pitt lead had extended to 8-0 going into the bottom of the sixth.
Wichita State got on the board with a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh. Coming into the frame, Aldenhoven had retired the previous 11 batters, however, the first four Shockers reached in the home half of the seventh, capped by a 2 RBI single to right center by Erik Harbutz. Aldenhoven was able to get a flyout to center to retire his first batter of the inning before Jordano called to the pen closing the book on a solid debut outing for the righthander. With two men on and one out Andrew Belfiglio came on in relief and got Sean Moore to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play to limit the damage.
Pitt quickly got the two runs back and then some, scoring three runs on four hits in the top of the eighth. Vranka got the rally going with a one-out single thorough the left side. After a Brummett was able to get the second out of the inning, Roche came to the plate and delivered a single to second which scored Vranka, who had advanced to second on a wild pitch. Parente then came to the plate and ripped a ball into the gap in center for a stand up triple and RBI. Lardo capped off the rally with a bloop single to left that scored Parente and give Pitt an 11-2 lead.
Pitt returns to action next Friday, Feb. 22, when they travel to Spartanburg, S.C. for the first of game a three-game set with Wofford.
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