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Panthers Drop Huskies, 7-4 in Series Opener




May 8, 2009

Box Score

NORWICH, Conn. — The University of Pittsburgh grabbed an early lead and never looked back, dropping the University of Connecticut 7-4, here at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, Conn.

Nate Reed (3-5) pitched six and two thirds strong innings to record his third win of the season, scattering eight hits and striking out four. Josh Smith picked up his second save in as many opportunities, dominating the ninth inning with three straight strikeouts to secure Pitt’s 11th Big East win of the season.

John Schultz finished 3-for-4 at the plate with an RBI and Sedon recorded two RBI, tying a game-high.

Pitt (26-16, 11-10 Big East) broke a scoreless game in the top of the third with a two-out RBI single from Chris Sedon. After Matt Barnes struck out Cory Brownsten and Zach Duggan to start the inning, Schultz singled and Morgan Kielty took first after being plunked by Barnes. Sedon drove Barnes’ first-pitch offering into center field, scoring Schultz.

Frank Mercurio’s sacrifice fly to right field scored Kevan Smith in the fourth to give Pitt a 2-1 edge. Smith doubled to center to start the inning, extending his hitting streak to 17 games.

The Panthers pushed the lead to three at 5-2 after a three-run fifth inning. Sedon’s second RBI hit of the game scored Schultz who drew a walk earlier in the inning. Matt Litzinger singled through the left side with the bases loaded, driving in Sedon and Kielty. Barnes was able to get Mercurio to fly out to center to end the inning and Panther offensive outburst.

Mike Nemeth’s RBI single to right field closed the gap to 5-2, but the Panthers would answer in the following inning. Duggan drew a walk, advanced to third off Schultz’s second base knock of the game and scored on a Kielty sacrifice fly to left, bringing the score to 6-2.

UConn (27-22, 10-12 Big East) platted one in both the sixth and seventh innings to pull within two at 6-4. Peter Fatse led the sixth off with a triple to right and scored off Matt Burnett’s groundout to first. In the Huskie seventh, George Springer’s two-out single to short allowed Pierre LaPage to score from third.

The Panthers added one in the eighth after Schultz drove a 3-2, Dennis Accomando offering into right center, driving in Mercurio who doubled to start the inning and advanced to third on a Brownsten groundout.

Smith entered the game in relief in the eighth, allowing just one hit while striking out five of the seven batters he faced, including the side in order in the bottom of the ninth to preserve the win.

The Panthers and Huskies will pick up action tomorrow with game two of their three-game series. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m. at J.O Christian Field in Storrs, Conn.