April 21, 2013
PITTSBURGH – Stephen Vranka (JR/Monroeville, Pa.) hit a walk off three run blast with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to lead Pitt (29-10, 9-3 Big East) past Rutgers (18-19, 8-7 Big East), 6-3, this afternoon at Cost Field. With the victory, the Panthers completed a weekend sweep of the Scarlet Knights.
“We battled hard the entire game and put ourselves in a position to win against a very good Rutgers team,” said Pitt head coach Joe Jordano. “Obviously, a huge hit by Steve Vranka with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to end the game.”
Joe Harvey (SO/Audobon, Pa.) (1-1) earned the win in relief for the Panthers after allowing no runs on two hits with three strike outs in 2.0 innings of work. Charlie Law took the loss for Rutgers (3-4).
Making his first start in over a year (April 4, 2012 vs. Youngstown State), Casey Roche (JR/Downingtown, Pa.) pitched masterfully needing only 90 pitches to get through seven innings.
“With Rhys Aldenhoven (JR/Victoria, Australia) not being able to go today we knew that we’d need a big team effort,” Jordano said. “Casey really pitched well giving us seven solid innings and Joe came in on the back end and pitched out of some trouble there to put us in a position to win the ballgame.”
Roche started his day with a walk but was able to retire the next three RU batters in order to calm his nerves and then cruised through the next two innings before the Scarlet Knights led off the top of the fourth with a double. Roche kept his composure and needed only six pitches to get out of the jam unscathed. From there, Roche ran through the Rutgers lineup allowing a mere two hits during the next three innings.
While Roche was dealing on the mound, the Pitt offense got on the board in the bottom of the sixth inning scoring three runs. Eric Hess (SO/Erie, Pa.) led off the inning with a walk but Pitt quickly made two outs before Elvin Soto (SO/New York, N.Y.) blooped a single into left. John Peluso (SR/Bethlehem, Pa.) the came to the plate and ripped a clutch single to right for the game’s first RBI. Sam Parente (SR/Pittston, Pa.) followed Peluso and also came up with a clutch hit when he turned on an 0-2 pitch and belted it into center for a double which brought home Soto and Peluso and made the score 3-0 in favor of the Panthers.
The Scarlet Knights finally got to Roche in the top of the eighth for three runs to tie the game but Harvey was able to help get Pitt out of the jam with strikeouts of Steve Zavala, Charlie Law and Brian O’Grady to end the inning with runners stranded on first and second.
After the Panthers couldn’t get the bats going in the home half of the eighth, RU threated again putting a runner on second with one out but Harvey was able to get Matt Tietz to fly out to first baseman Hess in foul ground and then, following a walk, get Vinny Zarrillo to harmlessly ground into a fielder’s choice to Parente at third to end the threat.
In the home half of the ninth, Parente came up with a one-out double off the wall in left field to give the Panthers’ their first base runner of the inning. Jordano then elected to pinch hit Boo Vazquez (SO/Youngstown, Ohio) in a move that paid off as Vazquez roped a single into right. Unfortunately for Pitt, the ball was on a line so the lead runner would be held at third with one out. Following a lineout to short for the second out of the inning, Vranka came up to the plate and provided the heroics when he turned on a 2-1 pitch and blasted it over the wall in deep left field for the game winning home run to wrap up the sweep sparking a celebration at home plate.
The Panthers will be back in action next Saturday, April 27, when they host Cincinnati in a double header beginning at 1 p.m. at Charles L. Cost Field at the Petersen Sports Complex.