Tigers’ baseball team falls to Pittsburgh

This past Saturday The University of Pittsburgh Panthers took a 2-0 series lead against the Grambling State University Tigers as they crushed the Tigers 14-6.  

In two days of play on Friday and Saturday the Panthers have outscored the Tigers 30-10.  

GLENN LEWIS/The Yearbook Johan Mojica hits a home run for the Grambling State Tigers.

GLENN LEWIS/The Yearbook
Johan Mojica hits a home run for the Grambling State Tigers.

The Panthers’ bats got hot early and stayed hot, finishing with four homeruns and 14 hits.  

Grambling State finished with two homers and 14 hits during the game at Ruston High School’s baseball field.

The GSU baseball team got a stride in the eighth inning after an Andres Castillo run. Drain Wesley got the bats started by drilling a pitch in between the Pittsburg Panthers defense, Darien Holbrook came in for the second score of the inning.  

Trailing 14-5, GSU’s Larry Barraza hit a line drive double down the third base line, and Allen Mays stole third and home.

“I thought we swung the bats well at the end of the game,” said GSU head baseball coach James Cooper. “We didn’t swing the bats well early on and I think that’s the biggest difference in the game. When they made mistakes and we had guys on base we didn’t make them pay for it early in the game.”

Cooper let it be known that it was clear why Pitt won.

“If you compare what they did to what we did that’s how they beat us today,” he said. “We made errors and they got the hits that they needed, and that’s how they were able to score as many runs as they did.”

Pitching was also an issue according to Cooper.

“We have to keep the ball off the middle of the plate,” he added. “They got the majority of those runs off of homeruns after we made errors. We cannot make errors and leave balls that are just that good for a hitter to hit so we don’t give up that many runs.”

Three up, three down usually is a reference to batters, but this weekend it was in reference to games. The University of Pittsburgh Panthers completed the sweep of the Grambling State University Tigers by winning the third of three weekend games 18-5 on Sunday, Feb. 28.

Although not the side of history one would like to be on, GSU’s three losses to Pitt this weekend helped their head baseball coach Joe Jordano claim his 800th career victory.

GSU head baseball coach James was looking for a win, and not a spot

“We got off to a good start offensively today,” he said after the game. “We didn’t hit as many home runs as they hit, but we were able to put balls out the ball park. … We didn’t have any errors in this ball game so that’s a good note. The way we swung the ball through all three games is a good note. We just didn’t get all the hits we needed and didn’t make timely pitches we needed.”

Pittsburg owned the seventh inning, rallying to take control. Charles Leblanc started the rally, with a line drive double, two runs scored. Nick Yarnell stepped to the plate and hammered the baseball 370 feet outside the ballpark. Yarnell hit two homers in the seventh inning and hit five homers on the series.

Tigers third baseman Daniel Barnett made an amazing diving catch to slow the Panthers’ bats down. Creighton Hoover took a crack, and the bases were loaded. Alex Kowalczyk batted in two runs. The Panthers scoring concluded with three consecutive home runs from Leblanc, Yarnell and Aaron Schnurbusch. GSU never got any offense going after the Panthers rally.

“We played clean up until the seventh inning,” added Cooper. “Then we just had a stretch where we couldn’t execute pitches. We left balls up. They put good swings on them. They hit them out.

“They had a stretch were they had seven or eight hits in a row, there’s no defense for that. Whenever you leave pitches belt-high over the middle of the plate, Division 1 ball players are going to get hits on them.”

The GSU Tigers open Southwestern Athletic Conference play against Alcorn State University Wednesday, March 2 at 6 p.m. in Lorman, Mississippi.