April 20, 2007
PITTSBURGH - After Villanova tallied four solo homeruns in the first five innings, the Pitt baseball team used a five-run rally in the sixth inning to top the Wildcats 11-6. Designated hitter Morgan Kielty led the way for Pitt, going 2-4 with 4 RBI's. With today's win, the Panthers (17-16, 9-6 Big East) are now above .500 for the first time this season.
Villanova (18-16, 5-8) got things started offensively with solo shots in the second, third and fourth innings off Panther starter Rob Brant (JR/Mansfield, Pa./Mansfield). Down 3-0, Pitt came back in the bottom of the fourth, scoring a run of its own when Seth Button (SR/Elk Lake, Pa./Gloucester College) lined a double into center field with two outs. Dan Williams (JR/Berwyn, Pa./Episcopal Academy) followed with a single to right-center for the Panthers' first run of the game.
"We were very impressed with the way that Rob [Brant] held it together after giving up four hits and four homeruns early on," Pitt head coach Joe Jordano said. "That's the tough thing about playing at [Trees Field]. Any swing of the bat can turn into a homerun."
The Wildcats responded with another solo homerun in the fifth, as Pitt went on to tally three more in the bottom half of the inning. The Panthers used five consecutive singles from the top of its lineup to tie the game at four. Villanova starter Mike Loree (5-1) would give up to eventual winning run in the sixth inning, picking up his first loss of the season.
Pitt rallied in the bottom of the sixth, scoring five more runs to take a 9-5 lead. Third baseman Gary Bucuren (RS FR/Ambridge, Pa./Kentucky) ripped a two-RBI triple into center field as Jordan Herr (RS FR/Lancaster, Pa./Delaware) drove in another with a double. Bucuren and Herr continue to lead the Panthers offensively with .336 and .316 batting averages, respectively.
"I was equally impressed with the way we battled back in the sixth," Jordan said. "I believe that's our first come-from-behind victory this season and we did it in impressive style."
With the Pitt up by four, the Big East's top reliever Kyle Landis (JR/Hazelton, Pa./Hazelton) took the mound in the top of the seventh, shutting down the Wildcat offense and giving Brant (3-4) the win. Landis tallied five strikeouts in three innings pitched, while giving up one earned run off three hits. Brant notched eight strikeouts in six innings, while allowing just one walk.
Pitt added two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth for the final of 11-6. Kielty (SO/Burlington, Ontario/Burlington) tallied his fourth RBI of the day with a double to left-center, scoring right fielder Peter Parise (SR/Bronx, N.Y./Cardinal Spellman). Kielty crossed the plate for the Panthers' final run when Williams singled for his second RBI of the day.
"It always feels good to win the first game of a series," Jordan said. "But we've got to come back extremely hard tomorrow."
Pitt and Villanova will continue their series Saturday at 3 p.m. before playing a final matchup at Trees Field on Sunday at 12 p.m.
NOTES: Today's win marked Pitt's first when trailing after the fifth inning. Seven different Panthers tallied two or more hits in the contest, with Seth Button leading the way going 3-4 with one run scored.