May 20, 2010
Pitt junior outfielder John Schultz hit a two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Panthers an 8-7 win over USF Thursday evening at Trees Field.
Pitt improves to 37-14 overall and 18-6 in Big East action. The win gives Pitt the most Big East wins in school history, breaking their 2004 record of 17 (17-9). USF falls to 23-30 overall and 14-11 in league play.
With the Big East title still in Pitt’s reach, the Panthers remain in third a game behind Connecticut and a half game behind Louisville with two regular season contests remaining. Pitt holds the tie breaker with both schools if a tie were to occur.
In addition to hitting the game-winning homer, Schultz (West Lawn, Pa./Wilson) led the team at the plate, batting 3-for-5 on the day with two runs scored and two runs batted in. Earning his first win of the season was freshman left handed pitcher Alex Caravella (Harrington Park, N.J./Northern Valley), who entered in relief in the top of the sixth. Caravella gave up just one run off two hits, striking out six of his 16 batters faced.
USF slowly built a lead, scoring a run in each of the first three innings. During the same three innings, Pitt recorded one run off a David Chester RBI double to drive in Schultz in the bottom of the first inning as the Bulls took the 3-1 lead.
In the bottom of the fourth, Pitt catcher Cory Brownsten (Lockport, N.Y./Monroe CC) hit a three-run homer to left center to give the Panthers their first lead of the game at 4-3.
The lead would not last long, however, as USF responded quickly with a three-run output of their own in the top of the fifth. Five batters reached base for the Bulls including Todd Brazeal, who hit a two-RBI single. USF exited the inning with a 6-4 lead.
Pitt was held scoreless in the bottom of the inning. Caravella entered the game for the Panthers in the sixth and held the Bulls to no runs on no hits to get out of the half inning.
The Panthers began chipping away at the USF lead in the bottom of the sixth on a Travis Whitmore sacrifice fly to right field, bringing home Chester (Collinsville, Okla./Seminole CC). In the bottom of the seventh, Pitt again brought home a run to tie up the game on a walk with bases loaded. Pitt would strand three runners in the inning, but tied up the game at 6-6.
USF again took the lead on a lead-off home run to left field by Sam Mende. Bulls pitcher Joe Cole seemed to solidify their win retiring Pitt’s three batters in the bottom of the eighth. The Bulls were unable to add to their lead in the ninth as Caravella allowed no hits in the inning.
Danny Lopez (Queens, N.Y./Monsignor McClancy) reached base on a key hit by pitch with one out in the inning. With a 2-2 count, Schultz homered to left field for just his third of the season, giving Pitt the 8-7 victory.
Pitt will officially close Trees Field Friday with a doubleheader scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. Saturday’s game has been moved to Friday due to expected inclement weather. The Panthers will move into the Petersen Sports Complex at the start of the 2011 season.
Pitt could tie its school record for wins with a sweep of the Bulls. Pitt also recorded 39 wins in the 1995 season. The Panthers have never reached 40 wins and would have an opportunity to reach that milestone next week at the Big East Championship in Clearwater, Fla.