Pittsburgh’s bats were hot for a second straight day to open the college baseball season.
The Panthers never trailed in their 10-8 victory over Wichita State, collecting 17 hits after 14 in Friday’s opener.
“I’d say that’s a pretty difficult obstacle to overcome,” WSU coach Gene Stephenson said. “It’s painful to watch.”
WSU’s obstacle reached its peak in the the seventh inning after Pitt had built a 9-2 lead. Pittsburgh starting pitcher Matt Wotherspoon went 7 1/3 innings and had six strikeouts while keeping the Shocker bats relatively quiet.
“Once again, their starting pitcher went a long way today,” Stephenson said. “Anytime you can get your starting pitcher to go seven-plus innings in February, you are doing pretty well. He didn’t walk too many guys, he’s ahead in the count all the time, he mixes his pitches up and he tried to keep the ball down.”
WSU finally found a way to crack the Pitt defense in the seventh inning. With two outs, Dayne Parker’s single allowed Micah Green to score, and two batters later Tanner Dearman singled into left field to score Parker.
The Shockers’ rally continued in the eighth, when Tyler Baker’s three-run shot over the right-center wall cut the lead to 9-7.
The momentum wore off some in ninth after Casey Roche singled to score Bennette Hill and increase Pitt’s lead to 10-7.
“Every time it seems like we get close or every time we get tied, we give it right back to them,” Stephenson said.
WSU had a golden opportunity in ninth inning to complete its comeback. Coy’s hit ricocheted off Hill’s glove at second base, allowing Dearman to score and make it 10-8. This also moved Casey Gillaspie to third base with no outs.
The magic ran out on WSU when Erik Harbutz lined into a double play during the next at-bat, and Mikel Mucha grounded out to end the game.
“We just have to compete better early in the game, offensively. I think we are coming around,” Stephenson said. “We are close, but we haven’t had a lead yet in these two games.”
While the offense finally got going, WSU’s pitching struggled. Six pitchers threw, and starter A.J. Ladwig gave up eight hits and four runs in 4 1/3 innings.
“There is no concern about anything other than we need to be consistent all around the game,” he said. “We need to be better offensively throughout the game and we need to have better pitching throughout the game. This is no time to panic, but we need to be better tomorrow.”
The Shockers wrap up their series with Pitt at 1 p.m. Sunday at Eck Stadium.
E — Hill. DP — Pittsburgh 2. LOB — PIttsburgh 12, WSU 7. 2B — Vazquez (1), Soto (1), Baker (1). 3B — Coy (1). HR — Shelinsky (1), Roche (1), Baker (1). S — Vranka. SB — Roche (1), Parente (1), Lardo 2 (3), Hess (1), Mucha (1). CS — Oswald.
|Wotherspoon W,1-0||7 1/3||11||6||6||1||6||7.40|
|Ladwig L,0-1||4 1/3||8||4||4||1||5||8.37|
WP — Ladwin, Minnis, Peterson. HBP — Parker (by Danielczyk); Shelinsky, Oswald (by Peterson). Balk — Ladwig. Umpires — Conan Strobel, home; Charlie Clemons, first; Kevin Raine, third. T — 2:55. A — 2,358.