PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Three University of Pittsburgh (18-6) pitchers combined to hold Towson University (13-12) to three runs on 15 hits in 24 innings as the Panthers swept a doubleheader from the Tigers at Cost Field on Friday afternoon.
After earning a 5-2 win in the opener, the Panthers outlasted the Tigers in the nightcap, posting a 2-1 victory in 15 innings. The nightcap was Towson's second 15-inning game of the season while it matched the longest game in Pittsburgh history.
In the opener, junior righthander Ethan Mildren outdueled senior righthander Mike Volpe of Towson as Pittsburgh came from behind to hand the Tigers a 5-2 loss.
The 30th-ranked Panthers were shut out on five hits by Volpe through the first five innings. However, leftfielder J.R. Shelinsky led off the sixth inning with a solo home run to rightfield, tying the game at 1-1.
In the bottom of the seventh, Pitt rallied to take a lead. Shortstop Evan Oswald led off with an infield hit and reached second base on a single by Evan Hess. Rightfielder Casey Roche bunted both runners into scoring position before designated hitter Boo Vazquez doubled down the left field line to give Pitt a 3-1 lead. Pinch runner A.J. Lardo was thrown out trying to steal third base by senior catcher Andrew Parker before Volpe retired the side.
Facing senior lefthander Kyle Paul in the eighth inning, Pitt added some insurance runs.
Third baseman Sam Parete started the rally with a double to left field. He reached third base on a single by centerfielder Stephen Vranka. Parete scored the fourth run of the game on a passed ball to give the Panthers a 4-1 advantage. With two outs, Oswald singled to right, scoring Vranka to make it a 5-1 lead.
Mildren took a four-hitter into the ninth inning when the Tigers' bats came to life. With one out, Parker belted his fifth home run of the season over the left field fence to make it a 5-2 game. Junior Kurt Wertz kept the Tigers' hopes alive when he doubled to left center. However, Mildren finished off his complete game win when he retired Peter Bowles on a fly ball to right and Hunter Bennett on a fly ball to center field.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when junior centerfielder Brandon Gonnella led off with a walk and went to second base on a sacrifice bunt. With one out, he stole third base and scored when catcher Elvin Soto's throw went down the left field line.
Volpe, who allowed three runs on 10 hits in seven innings of work, protected the 1-0 lead until the bottom of the sixth inning.
Brendan Butler and led the Tigers with two hits each.
Mildren, who upped his record to 5-1, allowed two runs on six hits with four walks and six strikeouts. Pittsburgh won its sixth game in a row while the Tigers lost their third consecutive game.
Sophomore righthander Paul Beers turned in the best outing of his career for the Tigers in the nightcap. Beers pitched 7.2 innings and allowed one run on six hits. He didn't issue any walks and had two strikeouts.
In the fourth inning, the Tigers gave him a 1-0 lead. Zach Fisher led off the inning with a single and went to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Butler. He reached third base on a balk and scored on a sacrifice fly by Wertz.
Beers shut out the Panthers until the bottom of the fifth inning. With two outs, Parente homered to left field, tying the game at 1-1. Neither team scored for the next 10 innings.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Panthers had a runner on third base with two outs but freshman righthander Lee Lawler came out of the bullpen to retire Oswald on a popup, ending the threat.
In the ninth inning, Butler singled with one out. After Wertz was retired on a fly ball, Butler stole second base. Then, Parker was walked intentionally. However, junior Dominic Fratantuono hit a fly ball to left to end the threat.
In the bottom of the tenth inning, Pitt squandered a great chance to win the game. The Panthers loaded the bases with one out. But freshman righthander Garrett Walther got second baseman Ronald Sucre to line out to third base before he retired Oswald on a ground ball to third base.
In the 12th inning, the Tigers escaped a jam when they turned a double play.
Sophomore Richie Blosser led off the 15th inning for Towson with a pinch-hit single. But, the Tigers failed to capitalize.
With one out in the bottom of the 15th, Sucre singled to left field. Oswald bounced into a force play for the second out. However, Hess singled up the middle. When the centerfielder, Gonnella, tried to throw out Oswald at third base, he made a bad throw and allowed Oswald to score the game-winning run.
In the second game, Pitt outhit the Tigers by an 11-9 margin. Second baseman Pat Fitzgerald and Fisher each led Towson with three hits.
While Beers allowed one run on six hits in 7.2 innings, Nick Cioffi pitched one scoreless inning of relief. Walther threw two scoreless innings before freshman Kevin Ross pitched three scoreless innings of relief.
The Tigers will try and win the series finale on Saturday afternoon when the teams meet at 1:00 p.m.