March 9, 2013
PITTSBURGH -- The University of Pittsburgh baseball team (7-4) defeated Manhattan (2-7), 6-5, to win its second game in the first day of the Panther Classic I at Charles L. Cost Field Saturday afternoon.
"When you look at the scope of the season, obviously we're just trying to get better every day," head coach Joe Jordano said. "If you put it into perspective, we played two solid teams today. Manhattan's a team that won its conference last year and participated in a regional. That's a heck of a team, and they came out and did a nice job in the first game. I'm very pleased with where we're at with everything."
Boo Vazquez (SO/Youngstown, Ohio) came on in the bottom of the eighth inning as a pinch hitter and hit a bases clearing triple to right-center to give the Panthers a 6-5 lead. Elvin Soto (SO/New York, N.Y.) (2-3, two runs, RBI) and Ronald Sucre (SR/Miami, Fla.) (3-4, run RBI) carried Pitt's offense by coming up in the clutch with crucial base hits late in the game as well.
Matt Wotherspoon (JR/Mountain Top, Pa.) pitched eight innings and allowed four earned runs while striking out five to earn his second win of the season, while Michael Scarinci picked up the loss for the Jaspers. J.R. Leonardi (JR/Pittsburgh, Pa.) forced two groundballs and a strikeout swinging in the ninth to earn his first save of the season for the Panthers.
Manhattan managed to plate two runs against Wotherspoon in the opening frame of the game with Nick Camastro, who was hit by a pitch, scoring on an Aidan John O'Leary single to left field to give Manhattan a 1-0 lead. Brendan Slattery delivered an extra-base hit as well as he doubled off the left field wall scoring O'Leary to put the Jaspers ahead, 2-0.
Wotherspoon sat down seven consecutive batters before giving up his first hit since Slattery's RBI-double in the top of the first. With no one on and two outs, Ramon Ortega doubled to left-center and advanced to third on an error that allowed Slattery to reach first safely in the third inning. Kyle Murphy entered the box with runners on the corners and singled to the left side scoring Ortega to give Manhattan a 3-0 lead. Wotherspoon, however, stopped the rally there as he forced Matt Troisi into a groundball out to Sam Parente (SR/Pittston, Pa.) to end the inning.
With two outs in the bottom of the fourth, Steven Shelinsky, Jr. (JR/Yardley, Pa.) recorded a base hit to center field and was followed by a single to shallow left by Parente. Soto connected for the Panthers' third consecutive hit in the inning with a single to center that scored Shelinsky, Jr. from second to put Pitt on the board, 3-1.
O'Leary opened the top of the fifth for the Jaspers with a single up the middle and a stolen base. Wotherspoon fought to get Ortega to fly out to center while Slattery followed with a groundball to third for the second out of the inning. Pitt closed the half-inning with Billy Lipari (FR/Omaha, Neb.) throwing out O'Leary at third on an attempted stolen base--his first career runner caught stealing--to keep the score at 3-1.
The Panthers added another run to their total in the bottom of the fifth to pull within one after Sucre, who reached on an infield single, scored after a Jaspers error and a groundball double play to make it a 3-2 game.
In the top of the seventh inning, O'Leary reached first on a dropped third strike for Manhattan and continued his aggressiveness on the base paths by stealing second. Ortega hit a ball to deep left-center field but Stephen Vranka (JR/Monroeville, Pa.) came in with an outstanding diving catch to get the out. O'Leary didn't tag up on the play and the Panthers ended the inning by doubling him off at second to keep the score at a one-run deficit.
Soto led off the bottom of the seventh with a triple to right-center. Sucre, posting his third hit in as many at-bats, singled to left to score Soto from third to tie the game at 3-3.
Manhattan took advantage of some early base hits in the top of the eighth inning to take the lead once more late in the game. With Murphy and Joe McClennan on second and third with one out, Troisi singled to the right side driving in two to give the Jaspers a 5-3 advantage over Pitt.
Eric Hess (SO/Erie, Pa.) led off the bottom of the eighth with a single and advanced to second on a groundball out to start the inning. Scarinci, in relief of Manhattan's Michael Martin, then allowed back-to-back walks to Shelinsky, Jr. and Soto to load the bases. The Panthers turned to Vazquez off the bench as a pinch hitter and they were not let down, as he hit a towering shot to right field for a triple that cleared the bases and put Pitt up by a single run heading into the top of the ninth, 6-5.
Leonardi worked a perfect frame in the ninth to secure a Panthers victory and to earn his seventh career save at Pitt.
The Panthers will return to action tomorrow afternoon in another double-header against Manhattan and Youngstown State. Pitt will first play the Jaspers at 1:30 p.m. and will close with a game against the Penguins at 4:30 p.m.