March 8, 2014
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The University of Pittsburgh baseball team (4-7, 0-2 ACC) dropped the nightcap of its matinee doubleheader against No. 17 North Carolina (10-3, 2-0 ACC) Saturday evening at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Benton Moss (2-1, 2.02 ERA) recorded a career-best 12 strikeouts and allowed just one run over seven innings of work en route to his second victory of the season. Rhys Aldenhoven (SR/Victoria, Australia) (1-1, 2.83 ERA) picked up the loss after surrendering two runs on seven hits in six total frames.
"Rhys gave us a chance to win but Moss was very, very good," head coach Joe Jordano said. "I have talked about the margin of error being very small and that was the difference today. We need to come back tomorrow with a sense of urgency. I thought we played hard and I believe we will continue to improve as a team. We'll be ready to compete again tomorrow."
Tyler Ramirez led off the bottom of the second with a base on balls for the Tar Heels and advanced to second on a single through the left side by Korey Dunbar. Parks Jordan then pushed a bunt single down the third base line to put men on each bag for North Carolina with nobody out in the inning. After Joe Dudek popped out to shortstop to Dylan Wolsonovich (SO/Ford City, Pa.) in foul territory, Michael Massardo brought home Ramirez from third on a sacrifice fly to shallow center field to give the Tar Heels an early 1-0 lead.
In the home half of the third, Landon Lassiter reached on a hard-hit single to short and was followed by a walk by Michael Russell. With no outs and two men on, Aldenhoven was able to buckle down to punch out Skye Bolt and Ramirez on strikes. Dunbar then stepped up to the plate with two outs and smoked an Aldenhoven delivery to the left field warning track, but Boo Vazquez
(JR/Youngstown, Ohio) was able to bring down the fly ball for the final out of the frame, keeping the game at a 1-0 score.
North Carolina pressed once again in the bottom of the fourth with Jordan leading off with a double to left center field. Aldenhoven struck out Dudek in the next at-bat and Massardo lined out to first for the second out of the inning. After Wood Myers walked to put runners on first and second, Lassiter struck a sharply hit groundball through the left side of the infield to score Jordano from second base, 2-0.
Stephen Vranka (SR/Monroeville, Pa.) led off the top of the sixth with a single to right field and added a swipe of second base following a strikeout by Wolsonovich. Vazquez then stroked a single to center field to score Vranka from second, putting and to Moss' shutout bid, 2-1. Moss recovered quickly by striking out Casey Roche (SR/Downingtown, Pa.) and Jordan Frabasilio (JR/Chander, Ariz.) to maintain the Tar Heels' one-run advantage.
Hobie Harris (JR/McKinney, Texas) entered the game in relief of Aldenhoven in the bottom of the seventh, recording two groundouts and a fly ball out while allowing only one base runner to keep the score at 2-1.
North Carolina turned to reliever Reilly Hovis in the top of the eighth. Hovis forced pinch hitter Nick Yarnall into a fly ball out to left field, struck out Vranka looking and got Wolsonovich to ground out to second base on a play that resulted in a close call at first after Myers made a tremendous defensive effort on the play.
Southpaw Zach Rice took to the mound in the ninth to face the left-handed hitting Vazquez, who grounded out to short. The Tar Heels then called upon closer Chris McCue to close the door, registering his sixth save of the season and second of the day in the 2-1 North Carolina victory.
The Panthers return to action tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m. in the series finale against the Tar Heels.
For more information on Pitt baseball, following the media relations Twitter account at @PittBaseballACC and the coaching staff at @PITTBASEBALL.