Pittsburgh picks up first ACC win, salvages finale at North Carolina
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Pittsburgh (5-7, 1-2 ACC) defeated No. 17 North Carolina (10-4, 2-1 ACC) 6-4 Sunday afternoon in the conference-opening series finale at Boshamer Stadium. The Panthers' first Atlantic Coast Conference victory was also their first win against a top-25 ranked opponent on the road since April 17, 2003, when they defeated No. 13 Notre Dame 5-3 in South Bend, Ind.
Hobie Harris (2-1, 1.33 ERA) was credited with the win for Pitt after tossing 2.1 innings of no-hit relief. Spencer Trayner (1-1, 8.10 ERA) took the loss for the Tar Heels, allowing two runs on two hits in 1.1 frames.
North Carolina opened the scoring in the bottom of the second inning. After Joseph Harvey sat down four batters in a row to start the game, Tyler Ramirez registered the Tar Heels' first base hit of the day with a groundball single through the right side of the infield. Korey Dunbar then sliced a two-bagger down the right field line to score Ramirez from first, putting North Carolina on top 1-0.
A.J. Lardo reached base on a wild pitch after striking out and Matt Johnson was hit by a pitch to lead off the top half of the third. Manny Pazos then laid down a bunt to move both runners into scoring position but Gallen recovered the ball put in play to nail out Johnson advancing to second base. Stephen Vranka batted for a walk off of Gallen to load the bases for Dylan Wolsonovich, who doubled down the left field line to give Pitt its first lead of the series 2-1. Boo Vazquez added another run when he drove home Vranka from third on a sacrifice fly to deep right field 3-1.
Harvey surrendered a hit by pitch to Michael Russell and a double to left center to Skye Bolt with no outs in the bottom of the fourth inning. With runners on second and third, Ramirez poked a sacrifice fly to left that gave Russell enough room to tag up and come across the plate to make it a 3-2 ball game. Dunbar followed with an RBI single roped up the middle that knocked in Bolt to tie the game at three runs apiece. The Tar Heels took the lead once again when Dunbar scored on a two-out double to the left field power alley by Joe Dudek 4-3.
Johnson tapped a single to right field to begin the Panthers' half of the fifth and was pushed to second base on another sacrifice bunt attempt by Pazos. Wolsonovich reached on a one-out fielding error by the third baseman to put two runners on and Vazquez walked to load the bases for Pitt. The Panthers, however, were unable to manufacture any runs in the inning as Casey Roche grounded into an unassisted force out to the third baseman to end the at-bat.
Gallen tallied his fourth one-two-three inning in the top of the sixth, getting Jordan Frabasilio to fly out to center while striking out Eric Hess and Lardo swinging. North Carolina knocked Harvey out of the game in the bottom of the sixth when Dudek connected with a 3-2 pitch for a single to right field. Andrew Belfiglio took the mound for Pitt with two outs in the frame and facilitated a run-down on a pickoff attempt to get the Panthers out of the inning unscathed.
Pitt was led off by a soft line-drive single to shallow left field by Johnson in the seventh which was followed by Pazos' third sacrifice bunt attempt of the game. Trevor Kelley entered in relief of Gallen with one down in the inning, hitting Vranka with a pitch and tossing a first-pitch wild pitch to Wolsonovich to move both base runners into scoring position. The Tar Heels then called upon southpaw Zach Rice to finish Wolsonovich's at-bat, which resulted in a game-tying sacrifice fly to center field 4-4.
In the top of the eighth frame, Frabasilio produced a one-out groundball single through the left side and Hess worked a base on balls to put two runners on for the Panthers. Trayner then allowed Frabasilio and Hess to move into scoring position on an 0-2 wild pitch to Lardo, who singled to right to put Pitt on top once more. Johnson followed with a sacrifice fly to left field to send home Hess from third, giving the Panthers a two-run advantage at 6-4.
Harris, who entered the game with two outs in the seventh, managed a strikeout, fly out and groundout in the eighth to protect Pitt's two-run lead. Harris returned to the mount for the ninth, registering a perfect frame for his second win of the season.