Pitt Baseball Tops WVU, 4-1

GRANVILLE, W.Va. – Led by a strong outing from junior pitcher Sam Mersing, the Pittsburgh Panthers (15-13, 6-8 ACC) baseball team defeated West Virginia on Tuesday, 4-1 in the latest rendition of the Backyard Brawl.

(Photo courtesy of Pitt Athletics)

The victory over the Mountaineers (17-14, 4-4 Big12) ups the Panthers record to 37-76 all-time versus their Morgantown-based rival. It was the first meeting of the two teams this season. West Virginia will travel to the Cost on May 17 to renew the rivalry.

Mersing went six innings strong, allowing just three hits in the outing. Mersing struck out seven batters, tying his career high, while walking just one. He held the West Virginia offense at bay until the Panthers got on the board in the seventh inning. Mersing improved to 5-2 on the year.

“Sam did a great job. We talked a little bit, in that first inning,” said head coach Joe Jordano. “I made a quick trip to the mound and just mentioned to him, don’t worry about anything but executing a pitch. I think at that point, it relieved a little bit of trying to do too much on the mound. After that, he just cruised, and did a really good job.”

The Panthers held the Mountaineers to just five hits and one run. The collective pitching performance was Pitt’s best since March 25 when Aaron Sandefur shut out Boston College while recording 12 strikeouts.

Sophomore Isaac Mattson and freshman Yaya Chentouf also appeared in the ballgame on the mound for Pitt. Mattson tossed two and two-thirds innings, surrendering one run and one hit, while walking three. Mattson also struck out two batters.

Chentouf entered the game and recorded the final out, registering his third save of the season in the process. He gave up one hit in his appearance,

While Pitt only had six hits, they were frequently on base as West Virginia hit three batters and also walked nine. One of those crucial hits came off the bat of senior Alex Kowalczyk, who hit a single up the middle to bring in two runs. Kowalczyk was the lone Panther to have a multi-hit game, as he had two singles.

The Panthers struck first in the seventh inning. After Conner Dotson recorded an out to begin the frame, he hit two straight batters. After a failed pickoff attempt advanced the runners, sophomore Charles Leblanc was intentionally walked, loading the bases. Junior Nick Yarnall then walked to bring in the Panthers’ first run of the ball game.

West Virginia at times struggled to find the strike zone. “I put the take on a couple of times with some of these batters,” Jordano said. As a result, the Panthers drew nine walks.

Pitt proceeded to expand their lead when Kowalczyk laced a two-RBI single up the middle. After a pitching change, freshman David Yanni hit a sacrifice fly to center as Pitt plated another run, their fourth of the inning.

West Virginia got on the board in the bottom of the ninth inning. An error and two walks paved the way for a single from freshman Ivan Vera to bring in the lone Mountaineers run. They had the bases loaded with two outs and the winning run at bat, but couldn’t muster up any more hits.

Pitt will return to the diamond on Friday, April 15 when they travel to Blacksburg, Va., to take on Virginia Tech (11-22, 2-13 ACC) for a three game series. The Panthers took two-of-three games from the Hokies last season at the Cost.

Notes: Junior P.J. DeMeo hit his first career triple in the fourth inning…Pitt improved to 7-8 on the road and 2-5 in night games…Pitt raises its record on turf fields to 7-4…the Panthers are now 7-4 when wearing blue jerseys…their record climbs to 8-10 when facing a right handed starting pitcher…the win lifted Pitt’s record to 1-1 on Tuesday games and 3-4 in April…Pitt’s record rises to 1-1 when tied after six innings and 9-4 when scoring first… Pitt is now 14-1 when leading after eight innings and 13-1 when they out-hit the opposition…Pitt increased its record to 8-5 when committing two or more errors.

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