April 3, 2010
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — A strong finish which included a ninth-inning rally by the University of Pittsburgh baseball team resulted in a 6-5 win over Rutgers University in the series finale here today at Bainton Field in Picscataway, N.J.
“That was a gut-check win for us,” said head coach Joe Jordano. “We played hard and fought our way back into today’s game and pulled it out. Rutgers is a tough place to play and I was pleased with the way we responded today coming off a not so great effort yesterday.”
Phil Konieczny’s grounder to short in the top of the ninth resulted in a Jaren Matthews error at first, allowing Evan Oswald to score from second and give Pitt (19-6, 4-2 Big East) the 6-5 win in the series finale. J.R. Leonardi picked up the win after throwing two and one-third innings, yielding just one hit while striking out five Scarlet Knights batters.
Four Panther batters recorded multiple hits on the day, led by Danny Lopez’s 4-for-5 performance from the plate.
Rutgers (14-11, 5-1 Big East) opened up a 3-0 lead after two innings of play following a Michael Lang leadoff home run to left in the first inning and Brandon Boykin single to center in the second that drove in two.
Zach Duggan singled through the left side to lead off the Panther third. Following a John Schultz base hit to left, each runner advanced on a double steal before Joe Leonard’s RBI groundout to short scored Duggan, cutting the deficit to two at 3-1.
Back-to-back singles by Danny Lopez and Schultz and a Dan O’Neil wild pitch put the Panthers in scoring position in the top of the fifth with no outs. David Chester’s RBI single up the middle scored Lopez, bringing the score to 3-2 in favor of the Scarlet Knights. Willie Beard’s wild pitch allowed Schultz to score from third, knotting the game at 3-3.
After a shaky first and second inning, Hood calmed down giving up just one hit and allowing just two base runners over the ensuing three innings.
Following a scoreless sixth, the Panther offense struck again in the seventh, grabbing a 4-3 lead to give Hood some breathing room. Lopez singled and Chester was intentionally walked to put runners on first and second. Kevan Smith’s two-out base hit up the middle scored Lopez to give Pitt its first lead of the game.
Rutgers took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the seventh off a Boykin two-out opposite field home run and Steve Nyisztor’s RBI infield single.
Pitt knotted the game at 5-5 off Lopez’s RBI double to the left corner in the top of the eighth before Leonardi struck out the side in the bottom half, setting up another wire finish.
“We are going to enjoy the Easter break and get back to work next week with mid-week games against Akron and Kent State and an outstanding club in Louisville coming in for the weekend and we look forward to the challenge,” said Jordano.
Pitt will return to action next week with a pair of midweek away games against Mid-American Conference foes Akron and Kent State. The Panthers and Zips will meet Tuesday, April 6th at 3 p.m.