April 6, 2012
PITTSBURGH – Ethan Mildren was solid on the mound again for Pitt, pitching his third straight complete game, but the Panthers fell just short in a 3-1 loss to Connecticut on Friday at Charles L. Cost Field.
Mildren entered the game with a streak of 16 consecutive scoreless innings, and kept the impressive run going until the seventh. The streak was halted at 22 innings when the Huskies’ L.J. Mazzilli scored on a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 1-1.
“It was a well-played game today. Ethan gave us another outstanding performance and put us in a position to win,” said Pitt head coach Joe Jordano. “We played well again defensively but did not get the timely hit, although we did hit some balls hard.”
The Panthers had taken the lead with the game’s first run in the bottom of the sixth inning, getting the job done with two outs. Batting second in the lineup for the first time this season, Boo Vazquez got things rolling with a single to center field. The freshman advanced to third on a double by Rick Devereaux and later scored on an error.
It was the second straight game that Pitt hung tough with one of the top teams in the conference. Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Panthers gave themselves a chance with a leadoff walk by cleanup hitter Sam Parente, but couldn’t capitalize.
“We have to believe we are getting better and as the season continues just be in a position to win some games. There is no doubt everyone is working hard we simply have to stick to the plan and good things will happen. I believe it without question,” Jordano said. “Regardless of what happens today, win or lose, we have to prepare ourselves mentally and physically for tomorrow. We will be ready.”
UConn starting pitcher Jordan Tabakman improved to 3-0 on the season with a stellar outing. He gave up one unearned run on five hits in seven innings of work.
Tabakman and Mildren staged a great pitcher’s duel, both keeping their pitch counts low and working quickly in a game that lasted just a shade over two hours.
Much of Mildren’s success has come with the command of his pitches and ability to hit the corners, and Friday was no different as he struck out six and issued one intentional walk. The sophomore has 38 strikeouts to just eight free passes this season and has lowered his ERA to 3.54.
In addition to the hits by Vazquez and Devereaux, Sam Parente had a double, while Ronald Sucre and Stephen Vranka added singles for Pitt.
The Panthers will finish their series with the Huskies on Saturday at Charles L. Cost Field. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.