April 11, 2014
CORAL GABLES, Fla. - The University of Pittsburgh baseball team (16-17, 8-8 ACC) dropped the series-opening contest to No. 20 Miami (23-12, 12-4 ACC), 12-2, Friday evening at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field in Coral Gables, Fla.
Chris Diaz (6-0, 2.52) earned the win for the Hurricanes after tying a career high in strikeouts with 10 over six strong innings on the mound. Sam Mersing (FR/McKees Rocks, Pa.) (1-2, 7.07 ERA) received the losing decision for the Panthers, allowing three runs on three hits and five walks during a brief emergency outing.
A last-minute scratch of Rhys Aldenhoven (SR/Victoria, Australia) resulted in Mersing toeing the rubber for his first career start with Pitt. The freshman right-hander started the stanza by serving up a leadoff single to left field by Dale Carey, who advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Palmer during the next at-bat. Miami then plated its first run of the ball game when Carey claimed two bases on a wild pitch that escaped the range of Panthers catcher Manny Pazos (FR/Miami, Fla.), 1-0.
After inducing back-to-back ground ball outs that tabbed two down in the second, Mersing was clubbed by a two-out rally that opened with a Johnny Ruiz single through the right side for the Hurricanes. Carey added a base on balls to put two runners on and Palmer cleared the bases with a two-bagger to left center, putting Miami comfortably on top with an early 3-0 advantage.
Aldenhoven would make an appearance after all for Pitt, as he entered the contest in the bottom of the third inning in relief of Mersing. Brandon Lopez walked to begin the Hurricanes’ turn at the plate and later hustled to third on an Alex Hernandez single that was roped to shallow center field. Lopez then scored when Aldenhoven let loose a wild pitch with runners on the corners, pushing Miami’s lead to a 4-0 score.
The Hurricanes’ offensive onslaught continued in the bottom of the fourth, with Palmer reaching base for the second time in the game with a free base on five pitches. Zack Collins followed Palmer’s walk with a base on balls of his own drawing to put a pair of runners on for Brad Fieger. Fieger stroked a two-RBI double past a diving Jordan Frabasilio (JR/Chandler, Ariz.) at third to then bring across Miami’s fifth and sixth runs of the contest, marking the fourth consecutive inning that the Hurricanes scored at least once, 6-0.
Dylan Wolsonovich (SO/Ford City, Pa.) walked and Casey Roche (SR/Downingtown, Pa.) lofted a one-out single down along the right field line to spark the Panthers’ bats in the top of the sixth frame. Following a Boo Vazquez (JR/Youngstown, Ohio) strikeout, Steven Shelinsky, Jr. (SR/Furlong, Pa.) stepped up to the plate and launched a two-out double to left center that scored both Wolsonovich and Roche, making it a 6-2 ball game.
Pitt turned to southpaw Andrew Belfiglio (SO/Newtown Square, Pa.) out of the bullpen to face the Hurricanes during the home half of the sixth. Palmer led off the inning with a four-pitch walk, made a clean swipe of second base and then moved to third on a failed pickoff attempt by Belfiglio. Miami placed runners at the corners following yet another walk by Willie Abreu, who forced a Belfiglio throwing error on a failed pickoff attempt at first that allowed Palmer to come across from third, 7-2.
Hernandez let four straight pitches pass for a one-out base on balls in the bottom of the seventh and stole second to put a runner in scoring position for Ruiz, who walked as well. Adam Dian (JR/Gibsonia, Pa.) then took to the mound for Belfiglio to face Carey, who registered an RBI single to right field that plated Hernandez, 8-2. Still with two runners on, a Palmer dribbler to third allowed Ruiz and Carey to each move into scoring position. Both runners scored on an Abreu double to left field, 10-2.
In the bottom of the eighth, pinch-hitter Laz Rivera knocked a one-out single to center and Jacob Heyward pushed Rivera to second base with a base knock through the right side. Rivera and Heyward moved to second and third, respectively, on a balk by Dian, with Rivera later scoring on a two-out wild pitch, 11-2. Edgar Michelangeli then made it a 10-run lead for the Hurricanes when he delivered a pinch-hit single up the middle, 12-2.
The Panthers return to action on Saturday, April 12 at 7 p.m. when Joseph Harvey (JR/Audobon, Pa.) takes on Miami’s Andrew Suarez in the second meeting of this weekend’s three-game series.
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