May 14, 2006
The Pitt baseball team kept its hopes alive for advancing to the Big East Championships with an 11-9 victory over visiting Connecticut at Trees Field on Sunday afternoon.
The Panthers (20-28, 8-16 Big East) are two games behind 8th-place USF but won the season series with the Bulls. Sunday's series finale against the Huskies (33-16-1, 15-6-1 Big East) was a hitting clinic from the start.
The Panthers tallied first in the bottom of the first inning off of previously unbeaten UConn starter Nick Tucci. With two outs, Jim Negrych (Buffalo, N.Y./St. Francis) drew a walk and scored on a double down the left-field line by Jimmy Mayer (Somerset, Pa./Somerset).
The Huskies came right back, however, getting a two-run home run by Josh Farkes to take a 2-1 lead against Paul Nardozzi (Victor, N.Y./Victor) and the Panthers. Pitt responded with a six-run second inning to take a 7-2 advantage. Peter Parise (Bronx, N.Y./Cardinal Spellman) reached on an infield single to lead off the frame and a fielding error by the Huskies' third baseman put runners on first and second. Dan Williams (Berwyn, Pa./Episcopal Academy) then drew a walk to load the bases and Jeff Stevens (Danville, Va./Dan River/Louisburg College) singled through the left side to bring Parise around with the tying run.
David Cline (Mercersburg, Pa./Mercersburg Academy) then followed with a two-run single through the left side and Conley reached on a fielder's choice, forcing Cline out at second. With two on, Negrych connected on his 11th home run of the season for a three-run shot and a five-run lead.
Connecticut chipped away at the Panthers lead, getting two runs in both the third and fourth innings to make it a 7-6 game. Nardozzi lasted just 3.1 innings, allowing seven hits and six runs, five of which were earned, with four walks and two strikeouts. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Pitt chased Tucci with three more runs, putting him in line for his first loss of the season.
With one out, Seth Button (Elk Lake, Pa./Elk Lake/Gloucester College)
singled to right-center field and moved to second on a base hit by Williams to left-center field. A third straight single, Stevens' second hit of the day, loaded the bases. With two outs, Sean Conley (Chippewa, Pa./Blackhawk)
cleared the bases with a double to left-center field to make it a 10-6 game. Tucci allowed 13 hits and 10 runs, nine of which were earned, in 4.2 innings with two walks and three strikeouts.
Connecticut cut the lead in half to two runs with a two-spot in the top of the sixth off of Pitt reliever Justin Cicatello (Buffalo, N.Y./Kenmore-West/Florida CC at Jacksonville). The Panthers got one back in the bottom of the sixth when Button laced an RBI single up the middle to score Parise, who had singled and stole second base.
Connecticut got one more run in the top half of the seventh but got no closer and dropped the finale by a count of 11-9. Cicatello (1-1) earned the win by pitching a career-high 5.2 innings in relief, scattering seven hits and allowing three runs, with a walk and two strikeouts.
Conley and Negrych drove in three runs apiece, while Cline drove in two for the Panthers. Conley also had three hits in the game, while Mayer, Parise, Button and Stevens had two apiece. The Panthers will be back in action on Tuesday, May 16, with a 7 p.m. home game against Marshall.
NOTES: Parise's stolen base was his 10th of the season in 11 tries...Negrych now has a team-best 59 RBIs on the season and has hit safely in 21 of his past 22 games...he also walked three times in Sunday's game to increase his school-record total to 112 free passes.