May 23, 2012
CLEARWATER, Fla. — In a game that was closer than the final score indicated, nationally-ranked and top-seeded Louisville scored four runs in the eighth inning on its way to an 8-4 win over Pitt in the opening round of the BIG EAST Tournament on Wednesday.
The Panthers trailed by just one run, 4-3, after seven innings. They fell behind 4-0 early before battling back with one run in the fifth and two runs in the seventh.
Freshman Elvin Soto put the Panthers on the board with a solo home run in the fifth. Playing in his first college postseason tournament, the catcher had a great game with three hits, including a double. The home run was his seventh of the season, tying him with senior Rick Devereaux for the team lead.
Soto got things going for Pitt again, hitting a one-out double in the seventh inning. He scored on a two-out double by Stephen Vranka, and Vranka scored on a single by Anthony Defabio to cut the lead to one.
If not for a great play by Louisville’s center fielder Adam Engel, the Panthers would have scored earlier than they did. With two outs and two on in the third inning, freshman Boo Vazquez drove a ball to the right-center field gap, but Engel made the catch on the run to save at least one run, probably two.
“I thought we swung the bats extremely well. A lot of our outs were very well struck,” said Pitt head coach Joe Jordano. “But, you have to give Louisville credit; they came up with seven runs with two outs.”
Trailing 8-3 in the final inning, the Panthers managed to get one across the plate. Evan Oswald and Soto led off with back-to-back singles, and Oswald would later score on a single by Vranka.
The Panthers tallied 11 hits in the game. Devereaux’s single in the third inning extended his hitting streak to 12 games and his on-base streak to 20 games.
Pitt will play the loser of Wednesday night’s game between USF and Connecticut on Thursday at 5 p.m.