Feb. 21, 2014
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - The University of Pittsburgh baseball team (3-1) defeated Butler (1-2), 15-7, in the opening game of the USC-Upstate Tournament Friday afternoon in Spartanburg, S.C. The contest marked the 25th consecutive victory for the Panthers when scoring 10 or more runs dating back to Feb. 18, 2012.
"I was very pleased to see 21 hits on the board," said head coach Joe Jordano. "We did a very nice job at the plate against a quality starter in Eric Stout. Butler can swing the bats as well and they are also very good against the fastball. After a shaky start, we settled in and did a solid job the rest of the way. I look forward to getting after it tomorrow against a very strong USC-Upstate club."
Matt Wotherspoon (SR/Mountain Top, Pa.) (2-0, 3.48 ERA) earned the win after striking out eight batters in five innings of work and he also became the sixth pitcher in program history to reach 20 victories in their career. Eric Stout was tagged with the losing decision for the Bulldogs, allowing 11 runs in total on 12 hits and two walks through three frames.
Pitt opened the scoring with a pair of runs in the top of the first inning. Stephen Vranka (SR/Monroeville, Pa.) led off the game with a triple to right field and scored on an RBI knock from Boo Vazquez (JR/Youngstown, Ohio) to give the Panthers an early one-run advantage. Vazquez was then plated on a mishandled ball put in play by Steven Shelinsky, Jr. (SR/Furlong, Pa.) to move Pitt ahead of the Bulldogs, 2-0.
Butler responded quickly with three straight hits to lead off the home half of the first. Chris Maranto and Marcos Calderon each singled through the left side with Michael Fries then driving in Maranto from second on an RBI single to center field. With one out in the inning, Ryan Wojciechowski produced a go-ahead, bases-clearing double to the right field power alley to bring around Calderon and Fries. The Bulldogs made it a two-run game when Nick Bartolone reached on an infield error that allowed Wojciechowski to score on the play, 4-2.
Manny Pazos (FR/Miami, Fla.) and Dylan Wolsonovich (SO/Ford City, Pa.) turned over the lineup card with back-to-back hits to start off the top of the second. In the following at-bat, Vranka registered his second hit and seventh total base of the day when he delivered a three-run home run to make it a 5-4 game in the Panthers' favor.
Pitt recorded six consecutive hits to start of the game's fourth frame, beginning with Wolsonovich reaching on an infield single to the shortstop. Vranka followed with his third hit of the game--a single to center field--to put runners on first and second, with each then advancing to scoring position on a wild pitch. Vazquez subsequently drove in the pair on a monstrous three-run home run to right field to put the Panthers up by four.
Casey Roche (SR/Downingtown, Pa.) connected for a solo home run after Vazquez's towering shot, marking the first time Pitt has hit back-to-back jacks since April 16, 2013 (Sam Parente & Shelinsky, Jr. vs. Youngstown State, 1st inning), 9-4. After Jordan Frabasilio (JR/Chandler, Ariz.) doubled down the left field line, A.J. Lardo (SO/Baltimore, Md.), who pinch ran for Shelinsky, Jr. in the fourth, scored on a passed ball as the Panthers assumed a six-run lead. Pazos then recorded a two-bagger to drive home Frabasilio, extending Pitt's lead to 11-4.
The Bulldogs responded to the Panthers' six-run outburst in the fourth by adding one for themselves in the bottom half of the inning. Pat Guinane, Alex Horowitz and Maranto combined for two hits and a walk to load the bases and, with nobody out, Calderon reached on an RBI single slapped back at Wotherspoon to give the game an 11-5 score. Wotherspoon escaped any further damage by striking out Quincy Quintero and Wojciechowski to end the inning.
Both teams were unable to muster much offense after the fifth inning until Pitt managed a run off of reliever Jeff Shank in the top of the eighth on a Wolsonovich double down the left field line, 12-5. Butler bounced back in its half of the eighth when Austin Miller and Calderon each hit solo home runs against sidewinder Jon Danielczyk (SR/Erie, Pa.) to cut the deficit to five.
In the final frame, Tyler Albert (JR/Montoursville, Pa.), who made his Panthers' debut pinch hitting for Vazquez, doubled to left field and scored on a triple by Roche to right center. Roche scored on an infield error to give Pitt a seven-run lead and Matt Johnson (JR/Plano, Texas) drove in the final run of the game on a two-base hit as well, 15-7.
The Panthers return to action tomorrow afternoon against USC-Upstate at 4 p.m.