March 14, 2014
BLACKSBURG, Va. – The University of Pittsburgh baseball team (7-8, 1-3 ACC) fell to Virginia Tech (7-8-1, 1-3 ACC), 11-5, Friday evening at English Field in Blacksburg, Va.
Tanner McIntyre (2-2, 6.59 ERA) earned the winning decision for the Hokies by halting the Panthers’ bats through four shutout frames out of the bullpen. Hobie Harris (JR/McKinney, Texas) (2-2, 2.75 ERA) took the loss for Pitt, allowing three runs on three walks and two hits in 1.2 innings pitched.
Saige Jenco, who went 4-for-4 in the game, led off the home half of the first with a single to center field off of Rhys Aldenhoven (SR/Victoria, Australia) and advanced to second base while the throw made its way to the infield. Jenco then tagged up from second to third on an Alex Perez fly ball out to right field and scored during the next at-bat on an RBI groundball out by Mark Zagunis, giving Virginia Tech a 1-0 lead.
In the top of the second inning, Eric Hess (JR/Erie, Pa.) singled up the middle but was called out at second base on a fielder’s choice put in play by A.J. Lardo (JR/Baltimore, Md.). Matt Johnson (JR/Plano, Texas) ripped a base hit to left field to put runners at first and second with two down in the frame and Manny Pazos (FR/Miami, Fla.) followed with a single through the right side to plate the game-tying run, 1-1. With runners on the corners, Stephen Vranka (SR/Monroeville, Pa.) and Dylan Wolsonovich (SO/Ford City, Pa.) manufactured back-to-back singles to drive in a pair of runs to claim the early advantage, 3-1.
Pazos reached on an infield error to open the top of the fourth and took second base on a wild pitch by Brad Markey. After tagging up to take third on a fly ball to right field by Boo Vazquez (JR/Youngstown, Ohio), Pazos crossed home plate on a Casey Roche (SR/Downingtown, Pa.) single to left field to put the Panthers up by a 4-1 score.
Pitt extended its lead to four runs during its half of the fifth frame. Lardo ripped a one-out single through the right side to start the inning and Pazos drew a two-out base on balls to put two runners on for Stephen Vranka. Vranka stroked a single through the left side of the infield to grab hold of his eighth RBI in the past two games, making it a 5-1 contest.
The Hokies started chipping away at the Panthers’ four-run advantage during their turn in the fifth, beginning with a one-out base knock up the middle by Jenco. Jenco added a steal of second base during the next at-bat and then advanced to third when Perez grounded out to the right side of the infield. A passed ball allowed Jenco to score his second run of the game and to cut Virginia Tech’s deficit three runs, 5-2.
In the bottom of the sixth, Aldenhoven hit Ricky Surum with a pitch and Tom Stoffel hustled his way to first base on an infield single down the third base line. Aldenhoven then plunked his third batter of the game when he faced Kyle Wernicki to load the bases, resulting in Pitt turning to Harris in relief. Harris walked the first batter he faced, Miguel Ceballos, to plate a run, and surrendered a RBI single through the left side to Jenco, 5-4. The Hokies knotted the game at 5-5 when Wernicki scored on Perez’s groundball out to Johnson at second base.
Wernicki opened the eighth with a single up the middle and Ceballos reached first after being hit by a pitch during a bunt attempt, putting runners at first and second with no outs in the tie game. Jenco drew a base on balls to put runners at each base and the Panthers responded by bringing in southpaw Andrew Belfiglio (SO/Newtown Square, Pa.) out of the bullpen to relieve Harris.
Perez split the left side of the infield with a hard-hit groundball single that knocked in Wernicki and Ceballos to put Virginia Tech back on top, 7-5, in the late going. Sean Keselica delivered a towering fly ball to deep left that fell just beyond the reach of Lardo’s glove, scoring another pair of runs to push the score to 9-5. After Keselica’s two-RBI knock, Belfiglio fielded a bunt attempt by Surum but committed an error on the throw to first that permitted Brendon Hayden to score on the play, 10-5. The Hokies then executed a safety squeeze with Stoffel at the plate to bring home another run, 11-5.
Virginia Tech’s 10 unanswered runs were the most allowed by Pitt in a game since April 7, 2010, when Kent State scored 14 runs in the first and second innings of a 19-6 Panthers loss.
Pitt returns to action tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. with a doubleheader against the Hokies. Joseph Harvey (JR/Audobon, Pa.) and Matt Wotherspoon (SR/Mountain Top, Pa.) will take the mound for the Panthers during games one and two, respectively. The series finale is expected to begin approximately 45 minutes after the conclusion of the series’ second contest.