College Sports Roundup: Pitt Baseball Upsets No. 3 North Carolina

Nick BanMan Pitt - Photo by Jeffrey Gamza
PITTSBURGH – The University of Pittsburgh baseball team collected its eighth ACC victory of the season Sunday afternoon, downing the third-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels in an offensive shootout at Charles L. Cost Field.

(Photo of Pitt’s Nick Banman. Photo courtesy of Pitt Athletics. Photo by Jeffrey Gamza)

A five-run third inning for the Panthers lifted the home team to an 11-9 win over the Tar Heels in a Coastal Division showdown.

With the win, Pitt evades a sweep as the Tar Heels earned the first two victories of the series on Friday and Saturday. The third-ranked team in the nation, North Carolina had lost just four games in ACC play coming into the weekend, losers of just eight overall.

Freshman Dan Hammer got in a bit of trouble in the first as the Tar Heels struck for four in the opening frame. A double and single put runners on the corners for a single by Kyle Datres to score the first of the game. A three-run homer off the bat of Brandon Riley would clear the bags as the third-ranked Tar Heels grabbed a 4-0 lead.

“I was very pleased with Dan [Hammer],” said head coach Joe Jordano. “When I went out to visit in the first inning, I think it was 4-0 and we had a couple runners on bases still with one out. I told him ‘Dan, you just have to pitch, man. I have all the confidence in the world that\ we’re going to come out of this okay. You just have to keep pitching. Stick to the process and keep pitching.’ And he did that. The end result of that was he got us through five innings and did a really good job for us. He’s feeling good about it and we’re feeling good about it. As you’ve heard me say many times before that we’re trying to get a little better each game. Dan Hammer got a bit better today.

“That was probably the best offensive performance that we have had to date. Quite frankly, I felt that it was a must-win situation. There are so many teams bunched up in that seven, eight, nine wins column in the ACC and we’re going to have to battle our way to the end. I just thought that our guys responded all the way around. It turned a little rough at the end but we played really well defensively, took advantage of the opportunities on offense, and gave us some big hits. Overall, it was a very, very good baseball game.”

Pitt got one back in the bottom of the frame as a double by Caleb Parry and a walk to Frank Maldonado put two on. Shortstop P.J. DeMeo would single to center to score Parry, cutting North Carolina’s lead to 4-1. In the second, the Panthers would edge closer to the North Carolina lead, plating two more to cut the deficit to just one. A single by Alex Amos put a man on for senior Jacob Wright to continue his offensive prowess, as the left fielder rocketed a ball over the wall in left-center for his fifth homer of the season.

The Panthers kept in going in the next frame, taking the lead off a five-run third inning. Nick Banman drew a leadoff walk, chasing the North Carolina starter. DeMeo would pop out in foul territory for the first out of the inning before a single by Yaya Chentouf would put two on for Manny Pazos. The senior catcher singled through the right side, scoring Banman before an error by the Tar Heels’ right fielder allowed the runners to move up.

A single by Amos scored Chentouf and put runners on the corners for a bases clearing triple by Nico Popa. Pitt would score its fifth of the frame off a single up the middle by Wright, claiming an 8-4 advantage.

In the fifth, Pazos led things off with a single up the middle, moving to second on a walk issued to Amos. The Tar Heels would head to the bullpen again before a fielder’s choice from Popa registered the first out of the inning. A single by Parry and an error in left scored both Popa and Amos, extending Pitt’s lead to 10-4. The Panthers took an 11-5 lead in the seventh as Pazos, who reached on a leadoff double, was brought around on a groundout and wild pitch.

The two teams exchanged runs in the seventh, off a solo homer by North Carolina’s Brian Miller in the top of the frame and a wild pitch that scored Pazos in the bottom half.

RJ Freure, who came on in relief of Hammer in the sixth, pitched a clean eighth inning and retired the first batter of the ninth before a single and walk would put two on with one out. Isaac Mattson took over on the hill and walked the first man he faced to load the bases with just one out. A bases clearing double by leadoff man Brian Miller would cut Pitt’s lead to 11-8 as Mattson was replaced by Sam Mersing.

Back-to-back singles from the Tar Heels would cut the Pitt lead to 11-9 before Mersing got Datres to swing at strike three, changing the momentum in favor of the Panthers. With two outs, Riley would swing at a first pitch, grounding out to Amos to end the game.

“We are very, very thin and we just need some time to recover a little bit, rest our bodies and our minds and just keep ourselves in a good position to move forward,” added the skipper. “We’re going to take advantage of our break in the action. We look forward to this whole week on both sides, to get us a little bit better rested and then prepare ourselves for next weekend.”

With the win, the Panthers improve to 17-20, 8-14 in the ACC. The Tar Heels drop to 31-9, 16-5 in the ACC.

The Panthers will have the week off before returning to action at Charles L. Cost Field, hosting SIU Edwardsville in a three-game, two-day series April 29-30.


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Freshman right fielder Braxton Giavedoni (Punxsutawney, Pa.) tipped a tie game in Penn State’s favor with a walk-off base hit in the bottom of the ninth for a 2-1 victory over Northwestern in Big Ten baseball action Sunday afternoon on Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

All of the scoring in the game took place in the last four innings. Left fielder Joe Hoscheit hit a solo home run in the sixth inning to give Northwestern (16-23, 5-7 B1G) a 1-0 lead, but Penn State (13-26, 2-10 B1G) rallied in the final three innings.

Shortstop Conlin Hughes (Holly Springs, N.C.) tripled with one out in the seventh, and designated hitter Alex Malinsky (Apex, N.C.) hit a sacrifice fly to deep left to tie the game at 1-1. Despite getting a runner to third with no outs in the eighth, the Nittany Lions left the bases loaded. However, they did not make the same mistake in the ninth though as Giavedoni drove the first pitch he saw into left field.

With one out in the ninth, third baseman Logan Goodnight (Wheeling, W.Va.) started setting the table for Giavedoni with a base hit that dropped just in front of the left fielder. Second baseman Christian Helsel (Altoona, Pa.) followed with a base hit to center to cap a 3-for-5 day at the plate, and centerfielder Mason Nadeau (Lansdale, Pa.) walked to load the bases.

The Lions overcame 12 stranded base runners, out-hitting Northwestern 7-3 and out walking them 7-2.

Both teams received strong starting pitching efforts. RHP Eric Mock (Shillington, Pa.) worked a career-high six innings with the only run allowed coming on the home run by Hoscheit. He yielded just two hits and two walks, not giving up a hit until the fifth inning with two outs when third baseman Connor Lind singled to left field. Mock also struck out five. It was RHP Nick Distasio (3-1) (Oley, Pa.) who earned the win though, holding the Wildcats to just one hit over the final three innings.

LHP Matt Gannon walked four but limited Penn State to three hits and no runs over the first six innings. Four relievers worked the final three innings with RHP Sam Lawrence (2-2) suffering the loss.

Penn State will conclude its five-game homestand Wednesday hosting Lafayette at 6:30 p.m.


PITTSBURGH – The University of Pittsburgh softball team defeated NC State, 4-3, Sunday, April 23 at Vartabedian Field after the Panthers captured game three of the series in thrilling fashion with a walk-off home run from Kaitlyn Kruger in the bottom of the ninth.

The Panthers take two of three from NC State, improving to 23-21 overall and 6-15 in ACC play, while the Wolfpack drops to 16-31 and 9-9 in conference action.

Pitt entered the seventh inning trailing 3-0, before a pair of home runs from McKayla Taylor and Erin Hershman tied the game. After a scoreless eighth, Kruger’s first career home run pushed the Panthers past the Wolfpack.

Freshman Brittany Knight tossed 4.1 innings in relief, allowing only one hit en route to earning her 12th win of the season. Sophomore Sarah Dawson started the game, allowing two runs on five hits over 3.0 innings. Kayla Harris allowed one run in 1.2 innings of work after relieving Dawson in the fourth.

NC State got on the board first with a two-run third inning. Dawson was able to retire the first two batters of the inning, but back-to-back singles for the Wolfpack put two runners on for Molly Hutchinson. Hutchinson delivered for NC State with a double down the right field line, bringing home both runners. Dawson received some defensive help to escape the inning as Hershman threw a rocket from center to home plate to catch Hutchinson attempting to take home on a single.

The Wolfpack added to their lead in the fifth, making it 3-0. Knight came into the inning with two outs and two runners on to face NC State’s cleanup hitter Alyssa Compton. Compton singled up the middle to drive in Tyler Ross from second, just ahead of Hershman’s throw to the plate.

The Panthers rallied late, scoring three in the bottom of the seventh. Sophomore Alexis Solak got things started in the inning with a single up the middle. Taylor followed with her seventh home run of the season, a blast over the wall in right-center field. With two outs, Hershman drilled her second homer of the season to tie the game at 3-3.

Knight was perfect in the two extra frames, not allowing a runner to reach base. The heroics from the Pitt offense continued in the bottom of the ninth as Kruger drove one over the left field wall for her first-career home run.


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State softball team dropped a 6-4 game three to the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers in a Big Ten Conference contest Sunday, April 23 at Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field.

The Nittany Lions (20-26, 6-11 B1G) led 4-2 with one inning to play before Rutgers battled back to score four runs in the top of the seventh and eventually take the 6-4 win. However, Penn State locked up the series victory after taking the wins on both Friday and Saturday.

Redshirt-sophomore Rebecca Zielger (Tucson, Ariz.) led Penn State with two hits, one RBI and one run, while Kristina Brackpool (Valencia, Calif.), Tori Dubois (Mt. Vernon, N.H.) and Sam Shanahan (Seattle, Wash.) each brought in one run for the Nittany Lions. Senior Marlaina Laubach (Northampton, Pa.) threw six innings and Madison Seifert (Wildwood, Mo.) took the loss throwing one inning in relief.

Four Scarlet Knights tallied two-or-more hits on the day with Nicolette Anico going 3-for-4 at the plate and scoring one run, while Nicole Bowman went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and touching home twice. Whitney Jones notched the win in the circle, throwing 6.2 innings in relief against the Nittany Lions.

Rutgers knocked three-straight singles to the left side of the field to open up game three and take the 1-0 lead with no outs in the top of the first inning. Laubach and the defense retired the next three batters of the inning to trail by one heading into the bottom half. The Nittany Lions quickly knotted the score at 1-1 when they loaded the bases and Brackpool was hit by a pitch to bring in the run.

Zielger started a two-out rally in the bottom of the second doubling off the center field wall and coming around to score on a Dubois single up the middle to allow Penn State to take a 2-1 lead. The Blue and White extended its advantage to 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning when Christa Wagner (Plainville, Mass.) reached on a Scarlet Knight fielding error and touched home on a Ziegler rope through the right side of the infield.

Penn State continued to build on its lead in the bottom of the fifth with back-to-back hits to put runners on the corners with one out. Shanahan came on to pinch hit and laid down a suicide squeeze to plate a run and give the Nittany Lions a 4-1 advantage.

Rutgers came within two, 4-2, in the top of the sixth inning with two doubles to right center and left center field. The Scarlet Knights battled in the top of the seventh, loading the bases with two outs. A ball in the sun allowed a bases clearing single to fall and give RU the 5-4 advantage. Rutgers tacked on one final security run to carry a two run lead, 6-4, into the bottom half of the inning.

Penn State was retired in order in the bottom of the seventh and were unable to secure the win over the Scarlet Knights.

Up Next:
The Nittany Lions will close out their seven-game home slate Wednesday, April 26 with a rescheduled contest against the Red Flash of Saint Francis (Pa.). Game one of the doubleheader is set for 5 p.m. at Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field.


BLOOMSBURG, Pa. — IUP claimed the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Women’s Tennis crown with a 5-2 victory against Mercyhurst at the Burt Reese Tennis Center Saturday morning in Bloomsburg, Pa.

The Crimson Hawks improved to 19-5 on the season while the Lakers fell to 17-2.

IUP won the title for the first time in school history.

IUP took a 2-1 advantage after doubles play following wins at the No. 2 and 3 slots.

MU knotted it at 2 after Saioa Gomez de Segura defeated Jarka Petercakova, 6-3, 6-4 at No. 1 singles.

The Crimson Hawks seized control of the match and earned wins at No. 2, 3 and 6.

IUP will learn its postseason fate Tuesday, April 25 at 8 p.m. during the NCAA DII Women’s Tennis Championship selection show.

No. 2 West – IUP 5, No. 1 West – Mercyhurst 2
Singles competition
1. S. Gomez de Segura (MER-W) def. Jarka Petercakova (IUP) 6-3, 6-4
2. Luise von Agris (IUP) def. Kayla Frost (MER-W) 6-1, 6-2
3. Raquel Gonzalez (IUP) def. Adrianna Jeffress (MER-W) 6-1, 6-4
4. Annie Baich (MER-W) vs. EkaterinaMinchenkova (IUP) 7-6, 1-4, unfinished
5. Adina Spahalic (MER-W) vs. Rachel Wood (IUP) 6-2, 3-6, unfinished
6. Sophie Butland (IUP) def. Carmen Mantecon Duro (MER-W) 6-2, 6-0
Doubles competition
1. Adrianna Jeffress/Kayla Frost (MER-W) def. Luise von Agris/Jarka Petercakova (IUP) 8-4
2. Rachel Wood/Raquel Gonzalez (IUP) def. Annie Baich/S. Gomez de Segura (MER-W) 8-5
3. Sophie Butland/EkaterinaMinchenkova (IUP) def. Adina Spahalic/Alexia Nay (MER-W) 7-6, retired

IUP tennis


BLOOMSBURG, Pa. — The Mercyhurst Lakers claimed the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Men’s Tennis in a thriller against Edinboro, 5-4, at the Burt Reese Tennis Center Saturday afternoon in Bloomsburg, Pa.

The Lakers improved to 14-9 while the Fighting Scots fell to 15-6.

MU won the title for the first time in school history while denying EU its fourth straight.

The Fighting Scots took a 2-1 lead after doubles play while claiming identical 8-6 wins at No. 1 and No. 3. The Lakers earned a point in doubles action after winning at No. 2, 8-6.

Four of the six singles matches went three sets, including three sets that saw tiebreak action.

EU earned wins at No. 1 and No. 2 singles after Vitor Albanese and Daniel Fernandez, respectively, bounced back from first-set losses to win the last two.

The Lakers snagged wins at No. 3 through No. 6 while Sebastian Pardo (No. 3) and Arseniy Sklyarov (No. 6) needed three sets to win their respective bouts.

MU will learn its postseason fate on Tuesday, April 25 at 8:30 p.m. when the NCAA DII Men’s Tennis Championship bracket is released.

No. 2 Mercyhurst 5, No. 1 Edinboro 4
Singles competition
1. Vitor Albanese (EDIN-M) def. Nenad Terzic (MER-M) 3-6, 6-4, 6-4
2. Daniel Fernandez (EDIN-M) def. Cormac McCooey (MER-M) 0-6, 6-4, 7-5
3. Joaquin Aguilera (MER-M) def. Mauricio Santos (EDIN-M) 6-2, 7-6 (3)
4. Sebastian Pardo (MER-M) def. Mateus Santos (EDIN-M) 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4
5. Conor McCooey (MER-M) def. Kevin Mboko (EDIN-M) 6-4, 6-1
6. Arseniy Sklyarov (MER-M) def. Thomas McCoy (EDIN-M) 6-1, 1-6, 7-6 (5)

Doubles competition
1. Vitor Albanese/Mateus Santos (EDIN-M) def. Nenad Terzic/Cormac McCooey (MER-M) 8-6
2. Sebastian Pardo/Arseniy Sklyarov (MER-M) def. Daniel Fernandez/Kevin Mboko (EDIN-M) 8-6
3. Mauricio Santos/Alexander Anderson (EDIN-M) def. Conor McCooey/Joaquin Aguilera (MER-M) 8-6

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