Baker Tosses Complete Game Win Over Bearcats

CINCINNATI–The Pitt baseball team snapped the Bearcats' seven game winning streak, defeating Cincinnati 3-2 Sunday afternoon at Marge Schott Stadium. Pitt freshman starter Corey Baker threw his first-career complete game, earning a win in the nine-inning thriller as designated hitter Chris Warner provided an offensive spark for Pitt in the fifth inning, notched his fourth homerun of the season

The Bearcats (19-12, 9-3) took an early lead in the bottom of the second, scoring an unearned run off a dropped fly ball. Baker (FR/New City, N.Y./Clarkstown South) got out of the inning without further damage, however, retiring the next two Cincinnati batters.

The Panthers (10-20, 3-9) responded in their next at bat, tying the game at 1-1. Warner (RS JR/West Seneca, N.Y./University of South Carolina) and Jordan Herr (RS SO/Lancaster, Pa./Delaware) drew back-to-back walks to start the inning, putting two on with no outs for Pitt.

Two batters later, Sean Conley (SR/Chippewa, Pa./Blackhawk), stepped to the plate and drove a ball to towards the middle infield. Warner scored on the play to tie they game, as all runners advanced safely after an errant throw by the Bearcats' second baseman. Conley has now tallied a team-high 36 RBI on season.

Cincinnati starter Tyler Smith was able to get out of the inning without further damage as his defense turned a double play during Pitt's ensuing at bat.

With the score still tied at 1-1 in the top of the fifth, Warner blasted a leadoff homerun over the right field wall to give Pitt the 2-1 advantage. The designated hitter went 1-3 on the day with an RBI, scoring two of the Panthers' three runs. His fourth longball of the season marks the second-highest tally on the team, five behind Conley.

Pitt was unable to add any insurance runs in the inning, as the Panthers' lead was short-lived.

Cincinnati answered in the bottom half of the inning, scoring a run of its own, once again tying the game. Tony Campana notched a leadoff single and move to second on a fielder's choice. He then advanced to third on a balk by Baker and scored when Josh Harrison drove a sac-fly to left field.

Baker was able to once again kept the offensive damage to a minimum, getting out of the inning before another Bearcat runner could score. Both teams battled through a score-less sixth inning before Pitt again pulled ahead in the seventh.

With two out and none on base, Conley notched a solid single to center field as shortstop Danny Lopez (So/Queens, N.Y./Monsignor McClancy) followed with a double, putting runners on second and third for Pitt. Cincinnati reliever Evan Sanford entered the game in an attempt to get the final out of the inning before the Panther runners could score.

Facing his first batter, however, Sanford lost control of a pitch, throwing it in the dirt passed Cincinnati's catcher Ryan Baker, as Conley crossed the plate for the eventual game-winning run. Sanford got out of the inning, but not before the damage was done.

Baker retired the Bearcat batters in order in the bottom half of the inning, as the game rolled on the eighth inning. Pitt was unable to add to its lead, as Baker returned to the mound to continue his career performance.

The freshman starter, who had not allowed more than two runners on base in any inning during the contest, found himself in a jam as Cincinnati threatened the Panther lead.

With one out, the Bearcat offense tallied back-to-back singles, putting runners on first and second. A third Cincinnati runner reached base safely on a fieldimg error by the Panther defense, loading the bases.

Baker notched two key outs, however, to get out of the inning, striking out the following batter and drawing a ground out to preserve Pitt's one-run lead. The Bearcats left a total of 11 runners stranded on the day.

Cincinnati changed pitchers for its fifth time during the game in the ninth inning as Matt Herber retired the Panthers in order. The Bearcat offense once again attempted a come-back in the ninth when Jamel Scott notched a one-out single, stole second and advance to third on the followed batter's groundout. Baker, however, sealed the game in fitting style, striking the final Cincinnati batter out to end the game.

Baker's nine-inning performance set a new career-high for the right-hander, topping his previous best of 5.0 innings at WVU on March 20. The freshman tallied four strikeouts, while allowing just one earned run off seven hits in the Panther victory.

First baseman Morgan Kielty (JR/Burlington, Ontario/Burlington Central) was the lone Pitt batter to tally a multi-hit effort in today's contest. The junior went 2-4, notching his fourth multi-hit game of the season.

The Panthers will be back in action on Tuesday as they travel to Ohio University for a 3 p.m. matchup with the Bobcats. Pitt will then face Duquesne for the second time in two weeks at noon in a showcase game at PNC Park, home of Major League Baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates.

Reining Big East Champion St. John's will then travel to Trees Field for a three-game weekend series with the Panthers. Game times are scheduled for 3 p.m. on Friday, 6 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday.

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