March 24, 2007
PITTSBURGH, PA. - The Pitt baseball team dropped a 19-5 decision to Cincinnati in their 2007 home-opener Saturday at Trees Field. Due to poor weather conditions, Friday's game had been moved to Saturday, while the two teams will play a double-header on Sunday starting at noon to close out the three-game series. The Panthers are now 7-11 overall and 1-3 in the Big East, while the Bearcats captured their first conference win of the season, moving their record to 12-9 and 1-0.
The first inning proved to be the difference in the game, as Cincinnati tallied nine runs on eight hits off Pitt starter Rob Brant (JR. Mansfield, Pa./Mansfield). Two defensive errors, however, led to seven of the eleven Bearcat runs, while only four were earned. Brant (1-3) finished the game going 5.2 innings while giving up 11 runs, three earned, on nine hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
Cincinnati used a three-run homer from infielder Josh Harrison as part of tits nine-run opening inning. Harrison would go on to earn eight RBIs in the contest as he added a grand-slam in the seventh, moving the score to 15-3 and a sac-fly in the eighth for the Bearcats' nineteenth and final run. Harrison went 3-4 on the day with four runs-scored.
"I was disappointed in our pitching in the first inning," Pitt head coach Joe Jordano said following the game. "After that, [Rob] Brant came in and did a decent job, but we need our Friday-night starters to give us Friday-night performances. We could've been out of the first inning only down one [run]. Cincinnati took advantage of the opportunities they had and swung the bats well."
After a tough start, the Panthers answered with the help of redshirt freshman Gary Bucuren (RS. FR. Ambridge, Pa./Kentucky). With one out, left fielder Sean Conley (JR. Chippewa, Pa./Blackhawk) drew a walk from Bearcats starter right-handed sophomore Steven Blevins. With Conley at first, Bucuren ripped a two-run shot for his fourth homerun of the season, giving Pitt its first points of the game. Bucuren finished the game 2-4 with two RBIs as he continues to lead the Panthers at the plate with a .373 batting average.
Blevins would allow three more Pitt runs to score, while giving up just five more hits and striking out three to move his record to 4-3 on the season in seven innings of work. Sophomore Jake Geglein finished the game on the mound for the Bearcats, going two innings, while allowing the Panthers to add just one final run in the ninth.
"[Steven] Blevins pitched well for Cincinnati," Jordano commented. "They made plays and had big hits tonight and we did not."
Pitt added its third run to the board in the top of the third when Conley came home on a wild pitch, moving the score to 10-3 at that point. The Panthers wouldn't score again until the seventh when back-to-back, pinch-hitters came through for Pitt.
Batting for second baseman Mike Lepor (JR. Rochester, Mi./Grand Rapids Community College), Dan Williams (JR. Berwyn, Pa./Episcopal Academy) ripped a two-out double to right field. Brian Muldowney (SO. West Chester, Pa./West Chester East), batting for Conley, followed with an RBI-single, scoring Williams to move the score to 15-4.
Williams added a second double in the ninth to score shortstop Daniel Lopez (FR. Queens, N.Y./Monsignor McClancy) for the Panthers' fifth and final run. Williams went 2-2 on the day with two doubles, one run-scored and one RBI, while Lopez went 1-2, drawing two walks and tallying three putouts and a game-high five assists.
"We'll come back tomorrow and play hard," Jordano said. "We'll continue to battle hard and work hard every day to turn our team around."
The Panthers will be back in action on Sunday with a double-header against Cincinnati. The first game will be a seven-inning contest starting at 12 p.m., followed by a nine-inning game to conclude the series. Pitt will then travel to Kent Sate for a 3 p.m. match up on Wednesday, March 28, before returning home to Trees Field for a three-game, weekend series vs. Notre Dame beginning Friday, March 30, at 6 p.m.
NOTES: Gary Bucuren and Dan Williams were the lone Panthers to tally two or more hits in the contest. Bucuren continues to lead the team in a number of offensive categories, including, but not limited to, batting average (.373), slugging percentage (.582) and on-base percentage (.440). Pitt is now 0-2 all-time vs. Cincinnati after dropping an 8-7 meeting with the team in 2000, while today's contest marked the first time the Panthers and Bearcats faced-off at Trees Field.