March 23, 2013
PITTSBURGH – Kaila Balatgek scored the game-tying run in the seventh inning and had the game-winning RBI in the eighth to help the University of Pittsburgh (12-13, 1-1) earn a split with St. John’s University (7-21-1, 1-1) in its Big East opening series at Vartabedian Field.
The Panthers dropped the first game by a score of 5-3, and then rallied with one run in each of the final three innings of game two for a 3-2 victory extra inning victory.
Alexa Larkin (5-5) recorded a career-high 13 strikeouts in game two. She threw a complete game and allowed just four hits. She had a strikeout in all eight innings, and had at least two in five of the eight frames.
Game One: St. John’s 5, Pitt 3
Holly Stevens accounted for all three Pitt RBI, but the Panthers were unable to overcome St. John’s in the opening game of a three game series at Vartabedian.
The Red Storm took an early 1-0 in the top of the first, but Stevens responded with her 33rd career home run in the bottom of the inning which tied the game.
The two sides would be kept scoreless for the next two innings until SJU scored three runs in the top of the fourth. The first three Red Storm batters all recorded hits and scored a run which gave SJU a 4-1 advantage. They added one more run in the fifth inning with an RBI single by catcher Dominique Marcelino.
Holly Stevens brought the score of 5-3 in the sixth inning with a two-run triple. Jordan Fannin had a one-out single, and Tori Nirschl then walked to put two on for Stevens. Her three-bagger to right field scored both runners and it was her first triple of the season.
However, that would be it for the Panthers as SJU pitcher Ashley Beza retired the Panthers in order in the bottom of the seventh inning to preserve the victory.
Game Two: Pitt 3, St. John’s 2 (Eight Innings)
Kaila Balatgek had a walk-off double and the Panthers scored one run in each of the final three frames for a come-from-behind 3-2 extra inning victory.
Larkin’s career-high 13 strikeouts led the way for Pitt defensively. She only allowed four hits, one being a two-run homer to Jackie Reed for SJU’s only two run of the game. That homer came in the fourth inning.
Nirschl started the Pitt rally with her team-high seventh home run of the season in the sixth. It was a one-out shot to straight-away center field which cut the deficit to 2-1 in favor of St. John’s.
Down to their final three outs, the Panthers tied the game in the bottom of the seventh as Carly Thea batted in Balatgek. Balatgek led off the inning with a double, and after a groundout advanced her to third, she crossed the plate when MacKenna Neuroth’s throw home from second base was not in time.
The game-winner came with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. With runners on first and second, Balatgek took Tori Free to right center field which allowed Carissa Throckmorton to score from second. It was Pitt’s first extra inning victory of the season.
The Panthers look to claim the series tomorrow afternoon in the rubber match between the two teams. First pitch at Vartabedian Field is set for 2 p.m. Click here for live stats.