March 17, 2009
NILES, Ohio — The University of Pittsburgh baseball team extended its winning streak to four games for the second time this season, holding on for a 7-6 win over Youngstown State University here at Eastwood Field in Niles, Ohio.
Ryan Dunford picked up his second win of the year, throwing five and two-thirds innings, striking out six while giving up five runs, three of which were earned. Nate Reed picked up the save, entering the game with two outs in the ninth, getting Casey Holland to groundout to Chris Sedon to end the game. Matt Litzinger led Pitt at the plate, going 2-for-5 with three RBI, including a three-run home run in the second.
After a scoreless first inning, Pitt produced the first runs of the game for the ninth time this season. Chris Warner drew a led-off walk, advancing to third on a Danny Lopez double to right-center. With two men on, Matt Litzinger sent a 2-2 pitch sailing over the right-field wall for his second home run of the year, putting the Panthers up 3-0. With runners on first and second Sedon grounded into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play.
In the YSU half of the second, Dunford tallied two straight strikeouts before showing his cat-like reflexes, nabbing an Anthony Porter comebacker to end the inning.
Youngstown State threatened in the bottom of the third, with Jeremy Banks drawing the lead-off walk. Joe Iacobucci struck out, but reached first on a fielder’s choice as catcher Corey Brownsten opted for an unsuccessful play at third. Dunford walked John Koehnlein, loading the bases before recording his fifth strikeout of the game for the second out. With the bases still loaded, Jacke Healey popped out to Sedon down the right-field line for the final out of the inning.
The Panthers sent Corey Vukovic to the dugout after just three and a third following a Zach Duggan RBI single that pushed the score to 4-0. Phil Klein took the mound, inheriting runners on runners on first and second and immediately ran into trouble, walking John Schultz to load the bases. Frank Mercurio’s rip through the left side scored Duggan and Hood, extending the Panther lead to 6-0. Back-to-back walks from Klein allowed Schultz to trot home for the final run of the inning, with Pitt up 7-0.
After going hitless through the first four innings, YSU got on the board in the bottom of the fifth with an RBI single from Iacobucci. With two outs and runners on first and second, Sedon bailed Dunford out with a stellar defensive play at second, gunning Healey out to end the inning.
Dunford ran into more trouble in the bottom of the sixth after loading the bases on back-to-back singles and a walk. Iacobucci made it 7-2 with an RBI sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Casey Holland. After walking C.J. Morris to again load the bases, Mike Wood took the mound in relief. Koehnlein drove in Porter with an infield single before a Lopez error scored two Penguins, cutting the deficit to 7-5 to round out the YSU sixth.
The troubles continued for Pitt in the seventh when Eric Marzec led the inning off with a solo home run, bringing the Penguins to within one at 7-6. Holland singled before Porter struck out for the first out of the inning. Banks grounded into a 5-6-3 double play ended the Penguin seventh.
Lopez singled to start the ninth for Pitt and made his way to third after groundouts from Litzinger and Brownsten after a scoreless eighth inning. Marzec pitched his way out of the inning, striking out Nathan Hood to end the inning.
The Panthers open up Big East play this weekend, March 20-22 against Cincinnati at Trees Field. Friday’s game is scheduled for a 3 p.m. start.