Pitt Baseball Walked Off by Virginia Tech

BLACKSBURG, Va. – A walk-off single in the ninth inning was the deciding factor for the Panthers in game one of the series, as the Hokies took a 5-4 decision over Pitt at English Field at Union Park Friday afternoon.

(Photo courtesy of Pitt Athletics)

Despite tying the game in the ninth on an RBI single from Aaron Schnurbusch, the Hokies churned out an RBI single of their own in the bottom of the frame to take the victory.

“Tough game today,” said head coach Joe Jordano. “We certainly did not go deep enough today and had to go to the pen early. Tyler {Garbee) did a solid job keeping us in the game. One swing of the bat was the difference maker.”

Virginia Tech started things off in the first as a lead-off double put Sage Jenco on with no outs. A double from Tom Stoffel would bring Jenco home and put the Hokies up 1-0.

Pitt responded in the second as Alex Kowalczyk would start the inning with a double, advancing to third on a fly out by Ron Sherman. Frank Maldonado would ground out to the shortstop, allowing Kowalczyk to score and tie the game up at 1-1.

The Panthers took their first lead of the game in the fourth inning. Charles Leblanc took a walk to lead off the inning, moving to second on a sacrifice bunt from Nick Yarnall. Kowalczyk would send a shot up the middle to score Leblanc. The catcher advanced to second when Sherman grounded out. In the next at bat, Maldonado smacked a well-hit shot into the right field corner to bring Kowalczyk home and give Pitt a 3-1 lead.

Virginia Tech answered in the bottom of the stanza, as Jenco singled to centerfield, allowing Ryan Tufts to score, despite a rocket of a throw from Schnurbusch.

Tyler Garbee would take over on the hill for starter Aaron Sandefur following the two-out RBI. Virginia Tech took to Garbee early, as a single from Stoffel brought a pair around and gave the Hokies a 4-3 lead. Virginia Tech continued to threaten, recording a pair of singles before Garbee was able to get Sam Fragale to fly out in foul territory.

Both teams were retired in order in the fifth inning, as the pitching staffs took control of the contest. Pitt got a pair of hits in the sixth, but was unable to score. Garbee retired the side in order in the bottom of the frame.

In the seventh, Schnurbusch took a pitch to the back and Johnson reached on a fielding error by the shortstop with two outs, but the runners were stranded. Garbee tossed a scoreless seventh inning to keep the Panthers in the contest.

In the eighth, Yarnall took a walk and was called out at second on a fielder’s choice by Kowalczyk. Jawan McAllister made his eighth appearance of the season, pinch running for Kowalczyk at first, but Sherman grounded out to the second baseman to end the Panther half of the inning.

It was another efficient inning for Garbee in the eighth as he didn’t surrender a hit.

In the ninth, Maldonado started things off with a single to left center, advancing to second as Parry grounded out. Schnurbusch would be the hero of the inning as he sent a single up the middle to score Maldonado and tie things at 1-1. The score forced a pitching change for the Hokies and brought pinch hitter David Yanni to the dish. Schnurbusch was caught stealing second, and Yanni flied out to the center fielder to end the inning.

The Hokies mounted a comeback in the ninth as three straight singles loaded the bases with one out. A single to left center would end the game as the Hokies earned the walk-off win.

“Must give credit to Virginia Tech for the 16 hits today,” added the skipper. “They did a great job at the plate. We pitched out of a couple of jams to give us a shot but in the end, Virginia Tech got the big hit when they needed it. We have to put it behind us and get after it tomorrow.”

Pitt will return to the field tomorrow for game two of the series as T.J. Zeuch looks to take the mound for his fifth start of the season. The Panther have had success this season with Zeuch on the bump, competing to a record of 4-0 when their ace on the mound.

First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET from Blacksburg, Va.

NOTES: The Panthers fall to 15-14-0 on the season and 6-9-0 in the ACC … the loss was the first walk-off of the season for the Panthers … Frank Maldonado extended his hit streak to four games … Charles Leblanc extended his hit streak to three games … Ron Sherman snapped an eight-game reached base streak … Alex Kowalczyk recorded three hits for the third time this season, bringing his multiple hit game total to 10 … Frank Maldonado recorded two hits for the fifth time this season, bringing his multiple hit game total to nine … Frank Maldonado produced two RBIs for the first time this season, bringing his multiple RBI game total to two … Pitt drops to 7-9 on the road and 2-5 in road ACC meetings … Pitt is now 13-9 in day contests and 7-5 in games played on turf … the Panthers fall to 7-5 when wearing their blue jerseys … Pitt is now 2-2 in one-run games and 7-4 against left handed starting pitchers … Pitt is now 1-11 when trailing after six and 0-13 when trailing after eight … the Panthers are now 2-11 when they get out-hit by their opponent and 7-9 when committing one or no errors … Pitt drops to 3-5 in April and 3-6 on Friday’s.

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