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Panthers Eliminated from Big East Championship by West Virginia




May 21, 2009

Box Score

CLEARWATER, Fla. —The University of Pittsburgh baseball team wrapped up the 2009 season here today at Bright House Field, falling to West Virginia University 20-8 in the second elimination game of the tournament.

WVU pounded out 17 hits, scoring 20 runs and capitalized on three rare Panther errors. Billy Gross picked up the win, while Corey Baker was charged with the loss. Chris Sedon finished with a team-high three RBI for the Panthers, setting the single-season home run record in the process, a day after setting the single-season total bases record. Senior Morgan Kielty finished his career in a Panther uniform going 2-for-3 with two RBI and a walk.

In to top of the first, Baker hit Justin Parks and walked Jedd Gyorko, putting two on with one out. Back-to-back RBI singles from Vince Belnome and Dan DiBartolomeo gave the Mountaineers an early 2-0 lead.

John Schultz doubled to lead off the bottom of the Panther first and Kielty drew a walk off Gross. On the 12th pitch of his at-bat, Sedon smashed Gross’s offering to left center for his 22nd home run of the season and second in as many days, putting Pitt ahead 3-2.

After a three-up, three-down top half of the second from WVU, the Panthers added to their lead in the bottom half. Cory Brownsten reached on a bunt-single, advanced to second on Zach Duggan’s fielder’s choice and then scored on a base-hit to left center from Kielty, making it 4-2 in favor of Pitt.

The Mountaineers regained the lead after putting up three in the third and two more in the fourth. Austin Markel’s lead-off triple was followed by an RBI double from Gyorko to make it 4-3. With two outs and runners on second and third, Joe Agreste’s grounder went through Sedon’s legs at second and allowed two runs to score, rounding out the scoring at 5-4 in favor of West Virginia.

In the fourth, Belnome’s RBI single to right scored Markel before DiBartolomeo’s sacrifice fly to left brought in Gyorko to make it 7-4 through three and a half innings of play.

Pitt loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth with one out on a Frank Mercurio double and walks to Brownsten and Schultz. Kielty’s base hit off Gross’s glove brought in Mercurio, cutting the lead to two at 7-5. Brownsten was tagged out at home on Sedon’s fielder’s choice before Gross walked Kevan Smith, allowing Schultz to score and make it 7-6. The Panthers regained the lead after Joe Leonard’s grounder got past DiBartolomeo at third, bringing in two more runs to round out the scoring in the inning with the Panthers up 8-7.

After singles from Tobias Streich and Colin Durburow in the fifth, Pitt turned to the pen, closing the book on Baker for the day. Nathan Hood entered the game with runners on first and second and one out, facing the top of the Mountaineer lineup. Hood got Parks to fly out to left before hitting Markel to load the bases. Gyorko singled through the left side, driving in two to give WVU the 9-8 lead before Belnome flew out to center to end the inning.

West Virginia scored six in the sixth and added five more in the seventh to extend its lead to 20-8. In the sixth, Markel’s cleared the bases with a triple down the right field line, scoring three. He also added a three-run homer to left in the seventh that put the Mountaineers ahead by 12.

Needing to score at least three runs to keep the game alive, Smith grounded out to second, ending his 21-game hitting streak before Matt Litzinger reached on a fielder’s choice with Leonard being forced out at second. Chris Warner pinch hit for Mercurio, striking out swinging to end the game and the season for Pitt.

The Panthers wrap up the 2009 season with a 28-21 overall record. Picked to finish 11th out of 12 teams in the annual preseason coaches poll, Pitt had a nine-game improvement from 2008 and qualified as the seventh seed for the championship tournament.