Panthers win slugfest in last game of homestand

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Panthers win slugfest in last game of homestand

By Jeremy Tepper / Staff Writer

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After grabbing his 500th win as manager of the Pitt baseball team with a 13-7 victory over Akron, it’s hard for Joe Jordano not to look back on his tenure fondly. 

“It puts you in a position to a reflect a little bit,” Jordano said. “This is my 18th year here. I’ve had some great coaches, some phenomenal players, great support staff. When you hit a benchmark win like this, you kind of reflect back on all of those people and how important they were to the success of this program.”

A stout offensive effort carried the Panthers on Wednesday, as the team collected 13 hits, with all but one of the seven players putting together multiple-hit efforts. It’s an effort coming off of a 6-1 loss against Penn State in 12 innings on Tuesday, after a five-run inning against senior Hobie Harris. Wednesday’s win pulled the team back to one game below .500 and advanced its record to 9-10.

“Yesterday was just not an inspired performance by anyone,” Jordano said. “And we wanted to correct that, and I just told them, ‘Let’s just go out there and play some baseball and swing the bats like we know how, and obviously we needed to after that first inning’.”

Both Akron and Pitt got off to a quick start. Akron started the game with three straight hits off of sophomore starting pitcher Sam Mersing, the last of those three being a single by redshirt senior right fielder Joey Havrilak. The hit brought in junior designated hitter Daulton Mosbarger, who started off the inning with a double.

Three batters later, redshirt junior first baseman Gerrad Rohan grounded out to Mersing to score Havrilak.

Pitt, however, struck back harder in the bottom of the inning, scoring five runs. Junior center fielder Aaron Schnurbusch spearheaded the inning, blasting a three-run home run to right field to bring in freshman shortstop Charles LeBlanc and junior catcher Alex Kowalczyk, who reached on a single and a walk.

The bats kept going after the homer, as senior second baseman Jordan Frabasilio doubled to left field and redshirt freshman right fielder Frank Maldonado ripped a triple down the right field line to bring him in.

The next inning, Akron picked up where it left off as Mosbarger grounded out to bring in freshman second baseman Alex Dirienzo, who had tripled to right-center. It was the first of two triples by Akron that inning, as Havrilak tripled to right-center to plate senior shortstop Matt Rembielak, who reached via a walk.

After surrendering another run in the third, Jordano pulled Mersing at the end of the inning for redshirt freshman Dan Furman. Mersing pitched three innings, allowing six runs — five of them earned — on seven hits.

“He was elevating a lot of his pitches,” Jordano said. “Anytime you elevate the ball against any team, you’re going to get hit hard.”

Luckily, Furman — who had previously pitched just one inning this year — patched up the Panthers’ pitching with six innings of three-hit, one-run work.

After using up much of his pitching staff yesterday, Jordano said the decision to bring out Furman paid off.

“We threw four, five guys yesterday. We were a little thin on the mound. With him coming in doing the job for us, it’s special,” Jordano said.

Furman’s effort means even more for Jordano and his team, given the relationship they have with him.

“He’s always putting out for everybody. His teammates absolutely love the fact that he got the win today,” Jordano said.

The coach added that Furman’s ability to keep the ball down helped him.

“He was just throwing strikes,” Jordano said. “He mixed his pitches well and worked ahead of the hitters.”

The Panthers matched the lone run that Furman surrendered when senior first baseman Eric Hess homered to right field to give Pitt a 7-6 lead.

The teams traded runs in the fourth again, with the Zips scoring on a ground out from junior infielder Kris Simonton to bring in Mosbarger and Pitt with a LeBlanc single up the middle to score redshirt sophomore outfielder Jacob Wright. 

The next inning, the Panthers gave themselves a bit more breathing room after junior third baseman Ron Sherman doubled to bring in sophomore outfielder Nick Yarnall, who also doubled after coming in as a pinch hitter.

Furman pitched five scoreless innings after surrendering one run in the fourth. Pitt collected four more runs, with three coming in the seventh and one in the eighth. 

After this brief stint in non-conference play, Pitt will return to playing ACC teams when it travels to Durham, N.C., this weekend for a three-game series against Duke, beginning on Friday at 6 p.m.

With the help of Furman’s effort, Jordano will approach the weekend with a full bullpen.

“We’ll be fully loaded going into the weekend and ready for an extremely talented Duke team,” Jordano said.

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