Clearwater, Fla. – Ron Sucre (SR/Miami, Fla.) hit a two-out double to score John Peluso (SR/Bethlehem, Pa.) in the bottom of the 12th inning to give the Panthers a thrilling 7-6 win over Seton Hall (37-19) in the Big East Championship. Pitt, which trailed 5-1 after five innings, advances to the semifinals against Notre Dame tomorrow while SHU has been eliminated.
"What a great baseball game," said head coach Joe Jordano. "All the way around, I thought both teams played well. When we were down 5-1 we just kept saying keep fighting and we had some great at-bats in particular that last at-bat of Peluso with two outs in the bottom of the 12th and the knock by Sucre for the game winner."
Joseph Harvey (SO/Audobon, Pa.) (4-1) earned the win after a gutty effort out of the pen where he threw 5.1 shutout innings with three strikeouts. Brian Gilbert (4-4) took the loss.
"Joe had one of the best pitching performances that I've witnessed in the situation that we were in with a do-or-die situation," Jordano said.
Seton Hall jumped out to an early 4-0 lead after scoring with two outs in the first and second innings and then scoring two in the top of the third to chase Aldenhoven from the game after 2.1 innings of work. J.R. Leonardi (JR/Pittsburgh, Pa.) came in with one out in the inning and runners on second and third and was able to get a strikeout and soft lineout to second to get out of the inning with limited damage.
The Panthers got on the board when Stephen Vranka (JR/Monroeville, Pa.) doubled home Dylan Wolsonovich (FR/Ford City, Pa.) with a rope into right center to make the score 4-1.
SHU answered with a run in the top of the fourth when it scored on a double on a flyball which was lost in the sun to push its lead back to four runs at 5-1. The Pirates also threatened in the top of the sixth, loading the bases, but Jordano went to the pen and brought in Jon Danielczyk (JR/Butler, Pa.) who pitched out of the jam with a groundout to second.
Pitt got a pair in the bottom of the sixth. Steven Shelinsky Jr. (JR/Yardley, Pa.) led off the inning with a walk and was brought home by a Sam Parente (SR/Pittston, Pa.) triple down the line in right field. Peluso then singled up the middle to bring home Parente and cut the Pirate lead to two at 5-3.
Seton Hall answered yet again in the top of the seventh when it scored a run on a squeeze play but the Pirates left the bases loaded when Joseph Harvey (SO/Audobon, Pa.) struck out Zack Weigel on three pitches.
The Panthers tied the game up in the bottom of the seventh when they plated three. Parente brought home Boo Vazquez (SO/Youngstown, Ohio) and Elvin Soto (SO/New York, N.Y.) with a double into the gap in left center. Parente then scored when Peluso reached on an error by the SHU second baseman to tie the game.
Shelinsky doubled down the right field line with two outs in the bottom of the ninth but was left stranded when a Parente rope found the glove of a Pirate defender.
After neither team was able to get a run across in the tenth, Pitt was able to set down the SHU lineup in the top of the 11th punctuated by a Harvey strikeout.
Harvey closed the door on the Pirates again in the top of 12 to give the Panthers a shot at the win.
Following a pair of outs, Peluso battled Gilbert and worked a walk after falling behind 1-2. Peluso then stole second by sliding under the tag of the Pirate second baseman and setting the stage for Sucre's heroics.
"While we're certainly happy with this win there is still work to be done. We're going to have to refocus and get ready to play tomorrow against a very good Notre Dame team," Jordano said.
The Panthers will be back in action tomorrow, May 25, at 10 a.m. in the semifinals against Notre Dame (32-24). Pitt will need to beat the Irish twice to advance to the finals.