March 30, 2013
PITTSBURGH – The 30th-ranked University of Pittsburgh baseball team (19-6) used 12 hits and steady pitching to wrap up a sweep of Towson (13-13) with a 7-5 win this afternoon at Charles L. Cost Field at the Petersen Sports Complex.
Rhys Aldenhoven (JR/Victoria, Australia) picked up the win for the Panthers after pitching 7.0 innings, allowing no earned runs, and striking out five. Nick Cioffi took the loss for the Tigers, while J.R. Leonardi (JR/Pittsburgh, Pa.) picked up his second save of the season for Pitt.
“I thought our pitching this weekend was outstanding,” said head coach Joe Jordano. “To play 33 innings and use five pitchers is incredible. We came up with some big hits today at opportune times and that was the difference. Rhys kept us in the game and pitched solidly. Both teams played hard the entire weekend. I cannot say enough about Towson, without question, one of the toughest teams we have faced this year.”
Pitt got on the scoreboard first in the bottom of the second inning. Steven Shelinsky Jr. (JR/Yardley, Pa.) started the rally by drawing a one-out walk. Sam Parente (SR/Pittston, Pa.) followed by roping a double to the wall in straight away center to put runners on second and third. Elvin Soto (SO/New York, N.Y.) brought home the game’s first run when he rifled a single up the middle for an RBI. Ron Sucre (SR/Miami, Fla.) then laid down a beautiful squeeze bunt to score Parente and give Pitt the 2-0 lead.
After Towson took a 3-2 lead in the top of the fourth, the Panthers retook the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Eric Hess (SO/Erie, Pa.) started the inning with a single to center after a 10 pitch battle. Casey Roche (JR/Downingtown, Pa.) and Boo Vazquez (SO/Youngstown, Ohio) then reached on a pair of singles to center before Shelinsky drew a four pitch walk to even the game. Parente then hit a hard groundout to short which allowed a run to score and helped Pitt regain the lead, 4-3.
The Tigers were threatening in the top of the seventh with runners on second and third with two outs but Aldenhoven was able to get out of the jam with a three-pitch strikeout of Zach Fisher, his final batter of the day.
Pitt added to its lead with three more runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. The frame was highlighted by a clutch two RBI triple to the gap in right center from Stephen Vranka (JR/Monroeville, Pa.) and a bullet single up the middle from Hess for an RBI.
From there, Leonardi was able to close out the game in the top of the ninth to secure the Panthers’ eighth consecutive win.
“We still have a lot of work to do and have significant room for improvement,” Jordano said. “Our guys understand that we are in it for the long haul and it is critical that we improve individually and as a team every day.”
Pitt will return to action on Tuesday, April 2, when it faces Akron in a 3 p.m. contest at Canal Park in Akron.