May 20, 2009
PITTSBURGH --The University of Pittsburgh jumped out to a 2-1 lead in its opening-round game against No. 2 South Florida at the 2009 Big East Championship, but the Bulls stormed back for the 12-2 win, enacting the 10-run rule with a three-run homer run in the bottom of the eighth.
Lefty Nate Reed (4-6) was charged with the loss after giving up 10 hits and nine runs (seven earned) in five and two-thirds innings of work. Randy Fontanez settled down after a shaky first two innings, going the distance for his seventh win of the season.
In the bottom of the first, Chris Sedon drove a Fontanez pitch over the left field wall and into the South Florida bullpen for his 21st home run of the season, giving Pitt a 1-0 lead. The home run put Sedon in a tie for the most home runs hit in a single season by a Panther player (P.J. Hiser, 2004).
South Florida answered in the bottom half of the first when Chris Rey's RBI single to left scored Junior Carlin, but the Panthers regained the lead in the top half of the second inning. Frank Mercurio, coming off a stellar season-ending series against West Virginia where he batted .417, led off with a single up the middle. After advancing to second on a Cory Brownsten sacrifice bunt, Mercurio scored two batters later on John Schultz's single to center, giving Pitt its second lead of the day.
Back-to-back singles by Carlin and Jonathan Koscso and a four-pitch walk by Reed to Todd Brazeal loaded the bases for the Bulls in the bottom of the third. An error by Sedon allowed Carlin and Koscso to score, giving USF its first lead of the day at 3-2. Brazeal scored off Rey's groundout, rounding out the scoring for the Bulls in the third, putting them ahead 4-2.
USF platted three in the fifth and two in the sixth to take a commanding 9-2 lead. RBI singles from Brazeal and Sam Mende and Sedon's second error fueled the three run fifth while Rey's double down the right field line an inning later lead to two runs in the sixth for South Florida.
After a scoreless seventh, the Bulls went back to work with Brazeal drawing a walk and Brandon Smith being hit by a pitch to put two runners on. Mende swung and connected on the first pitch he saw from reliever David Kaye, driving the ball over the left field wall to close the books on the first-round game.
The Panthers are slated to play No. 3 West Virginia University next, a rematch from the season-ending Big East Conference series in which Pitt took two of three from the Mountaineers. First pitch is set for 8 p.m. here at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla.
For the most up-to-date information regarding the 2009 Big East Championship, please visit www.bigeastbaseball.com.