Depth put on display in first scrimmage of fall season


By Jeremy Tepper / Staff Writer

Early offense allowed Pitt baseball to cruise to a 14-6 victory in a 12-inning exhibition contest over the Ontario Blue Jays.

Most of the Panthers’ runs came in three spurts — four each in the first, fifth and 11th inning. In all, they totaled 17 hits, while the Blue Jays — an 18-and-under team from Toronto that competes in the Premier Baseball League — collected 12 hits. Their six errors to the Panthers’ zero, though, dictated the outcome of the game.

“This was our first time out facing live pitching,” senior outfielder Boo Vazquez said. “I thought we swung the bats well, our pitchers pitched well, we had no errors. I don’t know what more you could ask for in your first time out.”

The bottom of the first inning started with Dylan Wolsonovich reaching first and advancing to second on a throwing error by Blue Jays third baseman Cooper Lamb. Vazquez brought him home with a single, one of Pitt’s two hits in the inning. After Pitt players Nick Yarnall walked and Charles LeBlanc flied out, Aaron Schnurbusch singled to right and advanced to third on throwing error by Jordan Balazovic, the Blue Jays’ starting pitcher. Right after, Manny Pazos reached on a fielding error by Lamb, scoring Schnurbusch. Panthers led 4-1 at the end of the first inning.

It was a standout effort from the Panthers’ offense. Five players — Vazquez, Schnurbusch, Matt Johnson, Eric Hess and Jordan Frabasilio — had multi-hit games. Hess, Frabasilio and Johnson were particularly effective, each generating three hits.

Vazquez and Hess said they were happy just to get on the field and play the first live game of the school year.

“It’s one thing to be out there practicing and stuff and doing you’re drills. But just to get out and compete against somebody that’s not your own teammate, it was a lot of fun,” Vazquez said.

Senior Hobie Harris got the start for Pitt, pitching one inning, striking out one and allowing one earned run on one hit. The run came after Josh Naylor grounded to second, scoring Nick Howie, who had reached on a double down the left field line. Eleven other pitchers took the mound for Pitt, pitching one inning each. Eight of them allowed no runs, while three  — T.J. Zeuch, Zachary Gakeler and Rich Condeelis — didn’t.

“We have to improve a little bit from a pitching perspective, in terms of consistency,” Pitt head coach Joe Jordano said.

Pitt played the Blue Jays last year and defeated them 5-1. It was a game that was brought about through mutual interest.

“They wanted to definitely play here and we wanted to make it happen,” Jordano said. “Last year the schedule worked out perfectly, and this year it worked out great as well.”

Jordano said he was pleased with his team’s hitting, though he was most pleased with its ability to play error free baseball. He also was happy to play a large part of his roster, something he had planned beforehand.

“We had four separate lineups, and we wanted to get a lot of people some opportunities, not only on the mound, but in terms of our position players, and we accomplished that,” Jordano said.

Jordano was satisfied with his team’s fundamental play as well, especially considering that they had only practiced two days as a team coming into this game.

“The fall is key for teaching key concepts, so that’s what we focused on today,” Jordano said. “Just running the bases hard, primary and secondary leads, dirtball reads — things that we as a team embody and embrace.”

Pitt will play again Oct. 18-21 for its annual Navy-Vegas World Series, a series of intrasquad scrimmages.