Pitt Baseball Tops No. 14 Clemson; Softball splits with NC State

The Pitt baseball team knocked off No. 14 Clemson Saturday, while the Panthers softball team split a doubleheader with North Carolina State.

BASEBALL

CLEMSON, S.C. – A six-RBI outing from shortstop Charles Leblanc led the Pitt offense to a 15-5 victory over No. 14 Clemson in game two of the series Saturday afternoon in Clemson, S.C.

Pitt recorded 15 runs off of 18 hits as the Panthers dominated the nationally-ranked Tigers to capture their second win over Clemson in program history.

“I am very pleased with our effort today,” said head coach Joe Jordano. “We did the job in all phases. T.J. [Zeuch] just keeps getting better with each start and really settled in after a tough first inning. Yaya [Chentouf] came in and did a really solid job to take us the rest of the way.

“Offensively, I thought we were as good as we were all year. Charles [Leblanc] had a great day and was outstanding with his two-out at bats. Alex [Kowalczyk] got us out to a quick lead and continues to swing well. Six of our starters had multiple hits. We also played well defensively, which is very important for us. Back to work tomorrow in game three.”

Catcher Alex Kowalczyk gave the Panthers the 2-0 lead with one swing of his bat in the top of the first, sending a deep shot over the left field wall, scoring Wright who had reached on a double through the left side in the first at bat of the contest.

The Tigers responded in the bottom of the frame, as a single down the right field line from Chris Okey scored a Clemson runner. Okey would touch home after Reed Rohlman doubled down the right field line to tie the game at 2-2.

The Panthers kept the offensive pressure on in the second, as Matt Johnson recorded a two-out single to left center. Jacob Wright was struck in the back by Clemson pitcher Charlie Barnes to put runners on first and second for Leblanc. The shortstop singled to left center and advanced to second on the throw, as Johnson came around to score. In the next at bat, Kowalczyk recorded his third and fourth RBIs of the game, sending a single down the right field line to bring home Wright and Leblanc and put Pitt up 5-3.

Zeuch retired the side in the second, including a strikeout to Jordan Greene. The Tigers got one back in the fourth on a solo shot from Seth Beer to cut Pitt’s lead to 5-4.

The Panthers offense threatened again in the fourth as Pitt managed to load the bases, but David Yanni was unable to drive in any runs as he was called looking in the two-out situation.

Clemson tied the game up for the second time in the fourth, as Robert Jolly walked and was brought to second when Rohlman was caught stealing third. A single from Greene brought Jolly around and tied the contests up at 5-5.

Frank Maldonado took a pitch to the back to start off the fifth inning as Caleb Parry sent a blooper single into right field and Aaron Schnurbusch successfully beat out the throw on a bunt attempt to load the bases with no outs. A deep sacrifice fly from Wright allowed Maldonado to score and advanced both Parry and Schnurbusch into scoring position. In the next at bat, Leblanc would send a single into center field, bringing both runners home and giving Pitt the 8-5 advantage.

The Panther offense continued its onslaught in the sixth as it plated four more runs to extend its lead to 12-5. Yanni started things off with a walk, followed by a single from Parry and another walk to Schnurbusch to load the bases for Pitt for the third time in the contest. Johnson would send a single to center field, bringing around Yanni and Parry and putting Pitt up 10-5.

Pitt would juice the bases for the second time in the inning and fourth of the game in the next at bat as Johnson stole second and Wright drew a walk to bring Leblanc to the plate. The shortstop continued to shine as he ripped a two-out single to left field to score Schnurbusch and Johnson, giving the Panthers a 12-5 lead.

A pair of strikeouts from Zeuch led the Panthers to back-to-back scoreless frames as they took a 12-5 advantage into the seventh.

The Panther offense was quiet in the seventh, but relief pitcher Yaya Chentouf was also able to keep the Tigers off the board, retiring three of the four batters he faced in the fourth, including a strikeout to Okey.

Leblanc continued his phenomenal evening, recording his sixth RBI of the evening in the eighth. Wright drew a two-out walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch before Leblanc would send a single into center field to bring the leadoff man around and extend Pitt’s lead to 13-5.

Chentouf returned to the mound for the eighth inning, again retiring three of the four batters he faced, whiffing the final batter of the inning in a three-pitch strikeout of Chris Williams.

The Panthers added a pair of insurance runs in the ninth as P.J. DeMeo entered as a pinch hitter for Nick Yarnall, who replaced Ron Sherman at designated hitter in the sixth. DeMeo extended his reached-base streak to 10 games with a double to left field. Yanni would bring DeMeo around with a double of his own. Yanni advanced to third on a wild pitch and touched home on a groundout from Maldonado to give Pitt a 15-5 advantage.

Taking the bump for the ninth, Chentouf earned his second career save, whiffing Clemson standout Beer in the final at bat.

Zeuch recorded his second win of the season, improving to 2-0 in three starts on the year. The ace went 6.0 innings, allowing five earned runs off of six hits, walking three and fanning six batters. Chentouf earned the save, going 3.0 innings without allowing a run, hit or walk and striking out three.

Leblanc finished his outing going 4-of-5 with six RBI and one run scored and Kowalczyk went 2-of-6 with four RBI and one run scored. In addition to Leblanc and Kowalczyk, four additional Panthers earned multiple hit games in Wright, Parry, Schnurbusch and Johnson. /

With the victory, the Panthers improve to 13-10-0 (5-6-0 ACC). The rubber game will conclude the series Sunday afternoon with first pitch set for 1 p.m. from Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

Notes: The win was head coach Joe Jordano’s 807th of his career and 524th at Pitt … the Panthers’ 18 hits tied a season best set at Grambling State on Feb. 28 … the Panthers stole four bases, tying the season best set against No. 11 Florida State on March 20 … Pitt batters were stuck by a pitch on three occasions, tying a season-high for the third time on the season … Charles Leblanc recorded four hits, tying a season-best for an individual for the sixth time on the season … Leblanc recorded his 14th multiple hit game of the season and first four-hit game of the year … a total of six Panther hitters recorded multiple hits … Leblanc recorded six RBIs, the first time a Panther batter has hit for six or more RBIs since Steven Vranka vs. Presbyterian on March 12, 2016 … Pitt knocked off a top-25 team for the third time this season … the 15 runs mark the first time Pitt has recorded 15 or more runs since an 18-run performance over Grambling State on Feb. 28, 2016 … Pitt posted 15 hits, the first time a Panther team has recorded 15 or more hits since an 18-hit performance against Grambling State on Feb. 28, 2016 … Frank Maldonado was hit by two pitches, the first time a Panther batter has been struck by two or more pitches since Matt Johnson was hit twice at Grambling State on Feb. 28, 2016 … Leblanc posted six RBIs and Alex Kowalczyk earned four, marking the first time Pitt had two hitters with four or more RBIs since Jacob Wright and Leblanc at Grambling State on Feb. 28, 2016 … Pitt improves to 6-6 on the road and 2-3 in road ACC meetings … the Panthers move to 3-5 against teams ranked in the top 25 … Pitt improves to 12-6 in day games and 8-7 in games played on grass … Pitt improves to 6-3 when wearing blue jerseys … the Panthers improve to 7-2 against left-handed starters … Pitt moves to 12-2 when leading after six and 12-1 when leading after eight … the Panthers improve to 7-3 when scoring first … Pitt is now 12-1 when out-hitting opponents and 9-2 when getting 10 or more hits … the Panthers are now 8-5 when at least one hitter records a home run and 6-5 when committing two or more errors … Pitt moves to 1-1 in April and 4-4 in Saturday outings … the Panthers are now 5-5 in games following a loss.

SOFTBALL

RALEIGH, N.C. – The University of Pittsburgh softball team split its doubleheader with NC State on Saturday, as the Panthers fell 6-5 in game one, but bounced back to win the second 2-1 at Dail Softball Stadium.

Pitt [22-12, 4-7 ACC] dropped a back-and-forth affair to the Wolfpack [17-19, 3-5 ACC] in game one, as NC State hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh. In game two, the Panthers trailed 1-0 after five complete innings, but came from behind to win 2-1 on a two-run shot by sophomore Erin Hershman in the sixth.

Hershman finished the day 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a walk in addition to her home run. Other impressive performances came from seniorJenna Modic who concluded the doubleheader with three hits, two of which were homeruns. Redshirt senior Shelby Pickett led the Panthers with four hits.

On the mound, Modic and sophomore Kayla Harris both pitched well for Pitt, despite Modic picking up the loss in game on. Harris struck out eight total batters and gave up just six hits in 6.0 innings. Modic struck out seven on the day.

Game One: Pitt 5, NC State 6
· Pitt dropped game one of the series to NC State, 6-5, in a back-and-forth affair on a walk-off single in the seventh.
· The Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a bases loaded single by redshirt senior Maggie Sevilla.
· The Wolfpack answered with two runs in the bottom of the second, as back-to-back singles to the outfield scored runners from second. After one complete, NC State led Pitt 2-1.
· The Panthers tied the game in the top of the second, 2-2, thanks to a sacrifice fly in foul territory down the left field line by Pickett. Senior Kathryn Duran, who was on third after a walk and sacrifice bunt by junior Kaitlin Manuel, tagged up and advanced home following the catch.
· Pitt earned a 3-2 lead in the top of the third following a solo shot over the center field wall by Modic.
· A home run by the Wolfpack’s leadoff hitter Molly Hutchison retied the game in the third inning, 3-3. Following the home run and back-to-back walks, Harris was relieved on the mound by Modic. The senior pitcher forced a 1-5-3 double play and then another ground out to end the inning.
· NC State gained a 5-3 advantage in the bottom of the fifth following three consecutive hits by the Wolfpack. NC State leadoff hitter Tyler Ross led off with a single up the middle and put herself in scoring position as she advanced on a wild pitch. With a runner on second, Hutchison sent a ball down the right field line to score Ross. Hutchison followed Ross home on a double by Burroughs.
· The Panthers responded again in the top of the sixth, as they plated two runs to tie the score 5-5. Pickett singled to lead off and then advanced to third following a wild pitch and error by the second baseman on the attempted throw down. Pickett crossed the plate after tagging up on a high sacrifice fly to left field by sophomore Giorgiana Zeremenko. Modic helped herself and tied the game after hitting her second long ball of the afternoon.
· NC State won the game in the bottom of the seventh on a walk-off single to center by Meredith Burroughs after Modic issued back-to-back walks to start the inning putting runners in scoring position.

Game Two: Pitt 2, NC State 1
· After two scoreless innings, the Wolfpack scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the third to take a 1-0 lead. Following two singles and a walk, Modic issued a full count, bases-loaded walk with two outs, which allowed Cheyenne Balzer to cross the plate.
· Two innings later in the top of the sixth, the Panthers would seal the win after Hershman blasted a two-run shot over the left center wall to put Pitt ahead 2-1.

Up Next
· Pitt and NC State will conclude the series on Sunday, April 3 at Noon.


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