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Stranded runners doom Pitt in loss to West Virginia

By Chris Puzia / Sports Editor

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Pitt and West Virginia’s backyard brawl continued on the baseball diamond Tuesday night, but the Panthers struggled offensively in the game.

A strong effort from junior Mountaineer pitcher Jeff Hardy helped defeat the Panthers (11-16, 4-8 ACC) at Charles L. Cost Field, as West Virginia won 4-1.

Hardy threw five strong innings, allowing one run on three hits during that time. Pitt’s lone run came in Hardy’s final inning, when junior shortstop Charles LeBlanc grounded out to second base, scoring junior third baseman Ron Sherman on the play.

That would be Pitt’s only run of the inning, as West Virginia redshirt sophomore catcher Ray Guerrini picked off Pitt redshirt sophomore left fielder Jacob Wright at third base, stranding two runners in the inning.

Pitt head coach Joe Jordano said Pitt’s offensive issues came down to missed opportunities.

“It’s just a matter of getting a hit in the opportune time,” Jordano said in a release. “We’ve had that issue here the last couple of weeks, and we have to fix it. We left 12 runners on base today.”

At that point, however, the Mountaineers (16-10, 2-4 Big 12) had already built a three-run lead.

With two outs in the fourth inning, Guerrini blasted a three-run home run to left field.

Two innings later, now with a 3-1 lead, Guerrini hit into a double play, but freshman second baseman Kyle Davis scored on the hit. The big game from Guerrini may have come as a bit of a surprise, as he entered the game batting only .204, with 14 runs batted in — ranking him fifth on the team.

Davis came out strong at the plate, batting 2-for-4, and scoring two runs in the process.

Pitt’s sophomore pitcher Sam Mersing picked up his first loss of the season, and he now has a 2-1. He threw five innings, allowing four runs on six hits, including the three-run home run.

“I thought Sam threw a really solid game today,” Jordano said.

West Virginia’s junior pitcher Blake Smith earned his second save of the season, allowing one hit and striking out one batter in his one inning of work.

After missing 14 games of this season due to illness, Pitt senior outfielder Boo Vazquez has been transitioning back into everyday baseball. He hit in the designated hitter spot on Tuesday, hitting 2-for-4 with a walk.

He entered the game batting .225 with six runs batted in.

Wright extended his team-high streak of games reaching base to 17 with his one hit on Tuesday.

Pitt has played West Virginia more times than any other team in program history. Tuesday’s game was the 150th matchup between the teams since 1939, and the Mountaineers now hold a 79-71 series advantage.

Before the game started, Pitt honored head coach Joe Jordano, as he picked up his 500th career win over Akron the game before.

Next, Pitt hosts Notre Dame (17-10, 3-9 ACC) for a three-game weekend series at Cost Field.

“It’s back to the drawing board,” Jordano said. “We’re going to continue to work hard and try to improve and prepare ourselves for Notre Dame this weekend.”

The first game is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. on Friday.

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Stranded runners doom Pitt in loss to West Virginia