March 24, 2013
PITTSBURGH – The Panthers hit three solo home runs in the bottom of the second inning to propel the University of Pittsburgh softball team (13-13, 2-1) to a 6-3 victory in the series finale against St. John’s (7-22-1, 1-2) on Sunday afternoon at Vartabedian Field.
The Panthers won the series by taking the final two games. Pitcher Alexa Larkin (6-5) won both of her starts this weekend, while Savannah King recorded her second save of the season this afternoon in 1.2 innings of relief work.
With one out in the bottom of the second inning, freshman Kathryn Duran gave Pitt a 1-0 lead with her second homer of the season which cleared the left center field fence. Two batters later, Carmelena Moffa tallied her first career home run as she took SJU pitcher Ashley Beza deep to right field. The next batter was Tori Nirschl and she knocked Beza out of the game with her team-high eighth round-tripper of the season, giving Pitt a 3-0 lead.
The Panthers added another run in the bottom of the fourth inning. After Kaila Balatgek reached base on a fielder’s choice, she stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Carly Thea then batted her in with a knock to center field.
Pitt then went ahead 6-0 in the fifth inning when pinch hitter Taylor Henry came to the plate with a bases loaded two-out situation. Henry came through with a single to left field which scored Balatgek and Thea.
Pitt held the Red Storm to two hits through the first five innings, but St. John’s rallied with three runs in the sixth. After two consecutive hits, SJU shortstop Erin Burner cut the Pitt lead in half with a three-run homer, bringing the score to 6-3. The Red Storm bats continued to stay hot as they registered three consecutive hits which loaded the bases and knocked Larkin out of the game. In a jam, King entered the game and got two massive strikeouts to halt the Red Storm rally.
St. John's would have one base runner in the seventh inning, but King got three groundouts to end the game and secured the 6-3 victory.
Balatgek had four hits, three of which were doubles, and scored three runs on the weekend, while Nirschl smacked two home runs and also scored three runs to lead the offense. Larkin registered 17 strikeouts in 13.1 innings of work.
The Panthers hit the road next weekend for a three-game series at DePaul. There will be a doubleheader on Friday afternoon, followed by the series finale on Saturday. Live stats will be available here, and fans can also receive updates on Twitter by following @PittSoftball.