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Panther Baseball: Pitt sweeps Hoyas, tied for Big East lead

The Panthers swept Georgetown on the road while USF took 2 from Notre Dame. The sweep locks up a berth in the Big East Tournament for Pitt.

Pitt Baseball continues to roll through Big East foes not based in the state of Florida following their three game sweep of Georgetown over the weekend. The Hoyas aren't one of the conferences top teams, but going on the road can always be a difficult task, so it was good to see Pitt take care of business and beat a lesser opponent.

Game 1 was on Friday night. Ethan Mildren picked up his 9th win of the season with eight strong innings. The Panthers got the scoring started early. After a Stephen Vranka double to get the game started, Boo Vazquez hit an RBI single to give Pitt a 1-0 lead. Vazquez stepped up to the plate again in the third with Vranka on third. The result was the same - an RBI single from Vazquez brought in Vranka for a 2-0 Panther lead. And from there, the hits kept coming. Pitt recorded 16 hits in the first game of the series. The Hoyas made it close in the 7th inning. With the Panthers leading 5-0, Georgetown brought in three runs to cut the deficit to two. But the Pitt bats were still hot, and the Panthers were able to score two more runs in the 8th and one more in the 9th to go home with an 8-3 win.

Game 2 took place Saturday with Matt Wotherspoon getting the W after seven innings of work. Pitt followed a similar script on Saturday that they did in Game 1 - keep Georgetown off the scoreboard while score in bunches early. Dylan Wolsonovic got things started with a 3 run homer in the second. Vranka and Elvin Soto were then walked to put 2 on base for Casey Roche, who hit an RBI single to drive in Vranka. Vranka then hit an RBI single in the 3rd to bring in Ronald Sucre and give Pitt a 5-0 lead and the Panthers didn't look back. Pitt tallied 14 hits on the night as the Big East's best offense continued to roll, winning 13-3.

Sunday's game saw the Australian Rhys Aldenhoven pick up his 7th win of the season and gave Pitt a berth in the Big East Tournament in three weeks. The Hoyas grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the second inning after a Panther error. But Pitt came back in the 4th with three straight doubles from Stephen Shelinsky Jr., John Peluso, and Sam Parente to give the lead back to the Panthers. Pitt kept things going in the 5th with a double from Soto, followed by an RBI single from Shelinsky Jr. Vranka then hit a 2-un homer in the 6th to give Pitt a 5-1 lead. In the 7th, Shelinsky Jr. was walked to get the inning started, then advanced to 2nd after Peluso grounded out to first. Evan Oswald then hit an RBI single to bring in Shelinsky Jr. and Pitt had a 6-1 lead. The Hoyas added a run in the bottom half of the inning, but weren't able to get any closer as the Panthers won 6-2.

Pitt's RPI now sits at 45 at the end of the day Sunday and that is about where they need to be on Selection Sunday in a few weeks to secure at least an at-large bid if they want to get to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1995. The Panthers will likely need to win out prior to the series at Louisville and then take at least one from the Cardinals to feel comfortable about their chances. Baseball America, one of the better college baseball sites, has the Panthers on the bubble, but still in the field.

Also noteworthy was South Florida's loss to Notre Dame on Sunday. Pitt had been trailing the Bulls by a game for a few weeks now and even though the Bulls still would claim the top seed based on their series sweep of the Panthers, the records are at least identical now with two weeks left in the regular season. Pitt takes on last place Villanova next week before traveling to 3rd place Louisville to end the regular season. South Florida travels to 4th place Seton Hall before hosting 5th place Rutgers.

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