March 28, 2014
PITTSBURGH - A walkoff double by Steven Shelinsky, Jr. lifted the University of Pittsburgh baseball team (13-11, 5-5 ACC) over No. 23 Georgia Tech (15-11, 5-5 ACC), 4-3, in 13 innings on Friday evening at Charles L. Cost Field at the Petersen Sports Complex.
It was only the second extra-inning affair against a top-25 team at Charles L. Cost Field with the previous being No. 24 Louisville on May 17, 2012. Pitt has now won six of its last seven contests and 16 consecutive conference games at home. They are also a perfect 6-0 at home to start the season.
John Danielczyk (SR/Erie, Pa.) (3-0, 3.32 ERA) picked up the win after pitching the 13th inning after starter Rhys Aldenhoven's (SR/Victoria, Australia) allowed three runs in 5.1 innings and Hobie Harris' (JR/McKinney, Texas) worked 6.2 innings of stellar one-hit relief. Dusty Isaacs was tagged with the tough-luck loss for the Yellow Jackets, allowing one run on three hits in 2.1 innings out of the bullpen.
After Aldenhoven breezed through the top of the Georgia Tech lineup to open the game, the Pitt offense provided him an early lead. Stephen Vranka (SR/Monroeville, Pa.) hammered a double into the left centerfield gap to extend his hit streak to eight games, and 14th straight contest reaching base. Advancing to third on a groundball from Matt Johnson (JR/Plano, Texas), he was plated by a deep sac fly to left courtesy of Boo Vazquez (JR/Youngstown, Ohio) to give Pitt a 1-0 edge.
Two of the hottest Panther hitters, Eric Hess (JR/Erie, Pa.) and Jordan Frabasilio (JR/Chandler, Ariz.) added back-to-back singles in the second as they each improved to nine for their last 20 (.450 average) over the last six games. Caleb Parry (FR/Riverside, Calif.) drew a walk to pack the sacks, but the Yellow Jackets turned two to end the threat with Pitt still holding a 1-0 lead.
The Yellow Jacket bats regained their sting in their half of the third inning as Georgia Tech took the lead, 2-1, after RBI singles from Mott Hyde and Thomas Smith.
Pitt would regain the lead in the bottom of the third on a home run from Boo Vazquez. Vranka jump-started the Pitt offense once again, this time with a walk and his fifth stolen base of the season as he slid into second base. With Vranka in scoring position and one man out, Vazquez sent the first pitch he saw on a one-way trip over the right field wall. The blast delivered his third RBI of the day and his team-leading 28th. Additionally, it was his 16th RBI in only 10 games of conference play.
Georgia Tech responded in the next half-inning. Keenan Innis singled through the right side of the infield and was doubled home by Danny Spingola's shot down the right field line. After only three Panther batters visited the plate in the bottom of the fourth, the inning concluded with the game knotted, 3-3.
Aldenhoven would make way for Hobie Harris in the sixth inning after allowing 10 hits and three runs in 5.1 innings pitched. Harris' glove was immediately put to the test on a sharp comebacker from Mott Hyde. The junior batted the ball down and played it off of an awkward carom from the mound to fire to first for the final out of the Tech sixth.
Georgia Tech starter Josh Heddinger proved difficult for the Pitt hitters to solve, retiring nine straight batters from the 3rd to the 6th innings before Casey Roche doubled to the right centerfield gap. His night would end one batter later after allowing three runs on five hits in 5.2 innings pitched. Sam Clay came on from the `pen, and immediately gave Hess a base-on-balls to put Panthers on first and second for Frabasilio who lined out to second for the third out with the score still even, 3-3.
Clay would not be an easier assignment, allowing only two hits and striking out six in 4.1 innings. However, Harris would match and ultimately exceed Clay's performance on the board with five strikeouts and only one hit in 6.2 innings of dominant relief to maintain the tie as both relievers pitched well into the extra frames.
Pitt would have the final word in the bottom of the thirteenth inning. Matt Johnson worked a nine pitch at-bat to draw a leadoff walk, and was moved to second on a sac bunt from Vazquez. After Casey Roche (SR/Downingtown, Pa.) was given the intentional pass, it was Steven Shelinsky, Jr. (SR/Furlong, Pa.) who played the hero tonight by driving a double deep to left centerfield to plate the Johnson as the winning run. The walkoff gave the Panthers the win, 4-3, and improved them to 2-1 in extra-inning contests this season.
The Panthers return to action Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. when they host Georgia Tech for the second game of the weekend series. The game was originally scheduled for 3 p.m., but was moved up in the day due to likely inclement weather. Probable starters for the contest are RHP Joseph Harvey (SR/Audobon, Pa.) (1-1, 3.81 ERA) on the hill for Pitt with LHP Devin Stanton (1-0, 3.68 ERA) opposing him for the Yellow Jackets.