(Port Charlotte, FL) - In a wild finish that ended with a batter/runner interference call at first base, the Sacred Heart Baseball team pulled off a come-from-behind 7-6 win for their first victory of the season against the Pittsburgh Panthers of the Big East Conference Tuesday afternoon at North Charlottle Regional Park.
The Pioneers scored three unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth to take a 7-6 lead. SHU loaded the bases with nobody out on a walk and two errors by Pitt. Rob Griffith (Lake Ronkonkoma, NY) broke from third on a pitch in the dirt, sliding in with tying run just ahead of the tag of Panther pitcher Alex Caravella. With the tying runs in scoring position, Dan Perez (Seymour, CT) came through with the biggest hit of the game, a two-run single to center to score Hunter Phillips (Monroe, CT) and pinch-runner Jonathan Servilla (Fairfield, CT) to give SHU a one-run lead.
Liam Rafferty (Westminster, MA) earned hist first save after putting the tying runs on with two walks, but struck out Nick Vasquez for an eventful final out on a breaking ball in the dirt. Vasquez attempted to check his swing at the pitch that bounced a few feet away from catcher Derick Horn (Valatie, NY). Vasquez took off for first, and Horn's throw to first hit him, but as the potential tying run crossed the plate, Vasquez was ruled out for running out of the baseline to end the game.
Pitt took an early lead off Nick Leiningen (Millwood, NY) on an RBI double by Anthony Defabio and a sacrfice fly by Casey Roche. The Pioneers, however, responded with a four-run bottom of the first. Griffith drove in two with a double to deep left. Conor McEvoy (Watertown, CT) made it 3-2 with a RBI single off the first base bag, followed by an RBI single by Perez.
Pitt tied the game in the fourth on an RBI single to centerfield by Elvin Soto and a sacrifice fly by Evan Oswald. Leiningen finished with six solid innings, giving up four earned runs on eight hits with four strikouts and no walks. Pitt took a 6-4 lead in the seventh off John Hermanson (Milford, CT) on an RBI double by Defabio and a would-be sacrifice fly by Roche to center that was dropped. Hermanson earned his first win of the season, going two innings of relief in yielding two earned runs on four hits.
The Pioneers and Panthers play again Wednesday morning at 11:30 am, with Kody Kerski (Waterbury, CT) getting the start. A scheduling note - Wednesday's game was originally scheduled for 1:00 pm, but has been moved up an hour-and-a-half.