April 1, 2014
PITTSBURGH - The University of Pittsburgh baseball team (15-12, 7-5 ACC) dropped the second game of the Backyard Brawl series to West Virginia (16-8, 2-0 Big 12) by a score of 6-4 Tuesday night at Charles L. Cost Field at the Petersen Sports Complex.
"We're disappointed with the outcome today," Head Coach Joe Jordano said. "We made some mistakes not only offensively, but on the mound today. When you're playing a quality team like West Virginia, those things are going to come back to bite you, and they did. Unfortunately, we didn't do enough to overcome that and the result is what it is."
In relief, freshman Sam Mersing (FR/McKees Rocks, Pa.) (1-1, 6.00 ERA) picked up the loss tonight for the Panthers. For the visiting Mountaineers, Michael Bennett recorded the win while Corey Walter closed things off by registering his fourth save of the season.
West Virginia got things started early as leadoff man Bobby Boyd hit a double to right-center off Pitt starter T.J. Zeuch (FR/Mason, Ohio). After a groundout to second base advanced Boyd to third, he would then score when a wild pitch found its way to the backstop to give the Mountaineers an early 1-0 lead.
Leading off the bottom of the second for the Panthers, Casey Roche (SR/Downingtown, Pa.) beat out a ground ball to third base for an infield single. After a strikeout of Eric Hess (JR/Erie, Pa.), a wild pitch and a hit-batter put runners on first and second for Pitt. West Virginia starter John Means regrouped and struck out the next two Panthers to end any type of scoring threat.
A dropped fly ball by the West Virginia left fielder off the bat of Stephen Vranka (SR/Monroeville, Pa.) started the bottom of the third for the Panthers and was followed by a single to center by second baseman Dylan Wolsonovich (SO/Ford City, Pa.). After Boo Vazquez (JR/Youngstown, Ohio) drew a walk to load the bases, Casey Roche laced an opposite field single to plate two Panthers and give them a 2-1 lead. West Virginia subsequently made a pitching change, bringing in reliever Pascal Paul who recorded the final out of the inning.
After a Zeuch hit batter to begin the top of the fourth, a single off the bat of Shaun Wood put two Mountaineers on the bags with no outs. Once retiring the next batter on a foul-out to the catcher, West Virginia tied things up at 2-2 on a throwing error by Wolsonovich that sailed into left field. Cameron O'Brien followed that up with an RBI double down the right field line. With runners on second and third, a Cody Semler bunt single plated another WVU run to give the Mountaineers a 4-2 advantage. Zeuch would get out of the jam by retiring the next two batters on a foul out and strikeout, respectively.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Panthers got a two-out rally going to tie the game. After a Hess single to right field, Steven Shelinsky Jr. (SR/Furlong, Pa.) laced a double to the gap in right-center to cut the West Virginia deficit to one at 4-3. Jordan Frabasilio (JR/Chandler, Ariz.) followed that by ripping another RBI double down the third baseline, scoring Shelinsky and tying the game at 4-4.
After being down 0-2 in the count, Manny Pazos battled his way back to draw a leadoff walk in the bottom of the sixth inning. Vranka then singled to right field, extending his hit streak to 11 games and making this his 17th consecutive game reaching base safely. West Virginia pitcher Michael Bennett worked his way out of the jam by turning a double play and recording the final out by pop-out, putting a halt to Pitt's scoring threat.
Right-hander Sam Mersing (FR/McKees Rocks, Pa.) came on in relief for Zeuch to start off the seventh inning. Zeuch pitched a career-high six innings, giving up three hits, three earned runs and striking out three. After allowing a leadoff double, Mersing retired the next two West Virginia batters. West Virginia would load the bases for Cameron O'Brien after drawing back-to-back walks and O'Brien delivered by signaling up the middle, scoring two runs and recapturing the lead at 6-4. That would mark the end of Mersing's day as right-hander Jon Danielczyk (SR/Erie, Pa.) entered the game and recorded the final out of the inning.
After a three-up, three-down top of the frame, the Panthers came to bat in the bottom of the ninth. Wolsonovich got things started with a single to right field against West Virginia pitcher Corey Walter. A groundout by Vazquez brought Roche to the plate with one out. The windy conditions came into play as Roche hit a high pop-up to the left side of the infield and the ball was blown down and found an open gap, putting the tying runs on first and second. Walter responded by striking out Eric Hess and getting Shelinsky to fly out to center, ending the game and giving the Mountaineers the season series win over the Panthers.
The Panthers return to action this weekend, April 4-6, as they host the top team in the nation, the No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers, at Charles L. Cost Field at the Petersen Sports Complex.
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