PITTSBURGH - The University of Pittsburgh baseball team topped Penn State 3-2 in a mid-week contest to help extend their win-streak to three games Tuesday evening at Charles L. Cost Field.
The Panthers victory over the Nittany Lions breaks a four-game losing streak to their in-state rival and gives Pitt their first win over Penn State since March 27, 2013.
Pitt (14-12, 6-6 ACC) had a strong pitching performance from freshman Dan Hammer (5.0 IP), freshman Chris Gomez (1.0 IP), freshman RJ Freure (2.1 IP) and junior Isaac Mattson (0.2IP), as the four pitchers collectively limited Penn State (10-17, 0-3 BIG 10) to seven hits and two runs.
The Panthers pitching staff sat down 13 Penn State batters via strikeouts.
"Dan [Hammer] did a great job today," said head coach Joe Jordano. "We're just trying to get him as many starts as we can. He's one of the pieces of our future and we're very excited about what he can do and what he has been doing. He came out and attacked today, and that's what we want him to do. I was very pleased with his performance."
Freure picked up the victory to improve his record to 4-1, while Mattson notched his fourth save on the season.
"Our bullpen has done a great job," added the skipper. "As a told RJ [Freure] when I took him out, that he put us in a great position out there. With the top of the order coming up, I just wanted to get a fresh look in there. I know that Isaac [Mattson] pounds the zone, and we wanted power with power out there. That's what we went with out there, and it turned out okay."
Pitt was propelled by a pair of underclassmen, who each had a run batted in provided by freshman Alex Amos and sophomore Yaya Chentouf in the mid-week game. Hammer, making the fifth start of his freshman campaign struck out the first four batters he faced as he settled into a groove to start the ball game.
The Panthers got on the board first in the bottom of the third through some small ball. Amos had an infield single, followed by classmate Nico Popa reaching safely on a bunt single. After a fielder's choice that put runners on the corners with one out, Chentouf placed a sacrifice bunt to pick up a run batted in and the Panthers first run of the ballgame.
The Nittany Lions took the lead in the fifth inning when sophomore Jordan Bowersox and senior Christian Helsel both hit balls to right field that carried over the fence, aided by a strong wind that topped out at 21 mph on the evening.
Hammer was relieved after the fifth inning, finishing with five hits, allowing two runs, three walks and striking out six batters. Gomez tossed an inning in relief, walking one and striking out two. Freure pitched three innings in his appearance, acquiring the win and allowing just one base hit while striking out four batters.
The Panthers regained the lead in the bottom of the seventh frame. With junior Nick Banman on after a single and one out, senior Manny Pazos hit a double off the right field wall to put runners in scoring position and force Penn State starter Schuyler Bates out of the game.
With Dakota Forsyth in for relief for the Nittany Lions, Amos hit a ground ball, forcing Banman home. After securing the second out, Penn State attempted to get Pazos moving to third on the play, but an errant throw travelled into the outfield and Pazos journeyed home to give the Panthers the 3-2 lead after seven innings.
Mattson was brought in to close out the game with the tying run on first base and one out. After a fielder's choice, Mattson got Penn State's top hitter, Bowersox, to fly out to right field to secure the Panthers victory.
The Panthers improve to 1-2 in mid-week ballgames, with four remaining on the slate. The Panthers will host Kent State and Youngstown State and travel to West Virginia. They will have a rematch in State College, Pa., against the Nittany Lions on Tuesday, Apr. 18.
Pitt had a crowded house at Charles L. Cost Field, as attendance of 717 was a season-high. Pitt football coach Pat Narduzzi threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Pitt will travel to Charlottesville, Va., take on nationally ranked Virginia in a three-game series on April 7-9. Following the trip to Virginia, Pitt will return home for a series against ACC Coastal division rival Miami, April 14-16.
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