DURHAM, N.C. – Another solid performance on the mound from senior Josh Falk guided the University of Pittsburgh baseball team to a 6-2 victory over Duke at Durham Bulls Athletic Park Sunday afternoon.
With the win, Pitt captures the series from the Blue Devils, winning back-to-back decisions following Saturday’s 9-8 10-inning victory.
“I was very pleased with all aspects of the past two days,” said head coach Joe Jordano. “After taking a very tough loss, we ignored it and came back to win a hard-fought extra-inning game to even the series and came out today and played very well to take the series. Any time you can win a series on the road is a plus.”
Consistent with his season thus far, Falk continued to shine, retiring the first 12 batters he faced before surrendering a walk to Griffin Conine in the fourth. Falk would get cleanup hitter Jack Labosky to whiff in his second straight plate appearance to end the fourth.
In the fifth, the Panthers put up the first runs of the game to take a 3-0 lead. Back-to-back singles from Alex Amos and Nico Popa put a pair on for Jacob Wright who would send a three-run jack into the right field stands.
Falk remained in control, allowing his first hit of the game in the fifth as a single through the right side broke up the senior’s no-hit bid. The Tampa, Fla., native would retire the side in order in the sixth, highlighted by a pair of strikeouts. Falk would again sit down Duke in order in the seventh as Pitt added another three runs in the eighth.
After Caleb Parry drew a leadoff walk, Duke called on the bullpen, but a single from Frank Maldonado and a walk to Nick Banman loaded the bases with no outs. P.J. DeMeo would ground into a double play but a run would score as Pitt went up 4-0. A double off the bat of Manny Pazos scored Maldonado and a single from Popa scored Pazos as Pitt went up 6-0.
Duke broke up the shutout in the eighth as a walk and double allowed a man to score. In the ninth, with Yaya Chentouf on the mound, a double, groundout and single put another run on the board for Duke as Pitt saw its lead cut to 6-2.
Sam Mersing, making his second straight relief appearance, entered with one out in the ninth and quickly got a pair of outs to end the game, earning his second save of the season.
Falk was electric, going 8.0 innings, allowing just one run off two hits and three walks, fanning eight. The senior improves to 3-2 on the season, his first decision since a March 12th loss at Louisville. He lowers his ERA to 2.25, which ranks in the top 20 of the ACC.
Offensively, Pazos went 2-3 with a run scored, RBI and a walk. Popa was 2-4 with a run scored and an RBI, while Wright went 1-5 with the three-run bomb. The Panthers were also clean in the field, not committing an error in the outing.
With the win, Pitt improves to 13-12, 6-6 in the ACC. Pitt improves its all-time record with the Blue Devils to 7-9-0 and takes a 6-5-0 lead in the series history in ACC play.
“Josh [Falk] pitched very well today and we played error-free behind him and got a huge three-run home run from Jake Wright,” added Jordano. We also had some clutch two-out hits from Nico [Popa] and Manny [Pazos]. I’m looking forward to hosting Penn State on Tuesday and preparing to hit the road for our sixth road series in the first eight weeks of the season.”
The Panthers will return to action Tuesday, hosting rival Penn State in a 6 p.m. tilt at Charles L. Cost Field. Fans are invited to join head football coach Pat Narduzzi and members of the football team in a pre-game BBQ as Narduzzi will throw out the first pitch in the ACC Network Extra contest.
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