April 18, 2017
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PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Ohio State began a four-game road trip in a big way on Wednesday, hanging on for a 3-2 win at Pitt on the strength of a Lilli Piper home run and eight strikeouts from starting pitcher Shelby Hursh. The win boosts Ohio State’s record to 27-11 while the Panthers are now 21-20.
THE SHORT STORY
Piper’s third-inning home run – a two-run shot – and Hursh’s work in the circle were enough for Ohio State to earn the non-conference win over Pitt at Vartabedian Field. Piper’s effort at the plate (3-for-3, two RBI, two runs scored) was backed up by Taylor White, who also had three hits (3-for-4, RBI). In all, seven different players led an 11-hit attack. Six of Hursh’s eight strikeouts were the inning-ending variety as she earned her team-leading 11th win of the year. Shelby McCombs recorded the game’s final two outs for her first save of the season.
HOW THE RUNS WERE SCORED
• Pittsburgh’s Olivia Gray took the third pitch in the bottom of the first off of Shelby Hursh and sent it just over the left centerfield fence, giving the Panthers an early 1-0 lead. Hursh was able to settle in, however, and got all three outs on strikeouts.
• With one swing of the bat in the top of the third, Ohio State took a 2-1 lead courtesy of Piper, who deposited her 12th home run of the season to left field and hit the scoreboard in the process. The hit scored Anna Kirk, who led off with a single to second base.
• White tacked on what proved to the key insurance run in the top of the seventh with a one-out single to right field, scoring Piper, who had walked. Following Piper’s at bat, Clark singled and advanced to second on an error in right field. The single for White completed a three-hit day for the junior.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
• Ohio State threatened to put a run on the board in the first inning for the 18th time this season when a mini two-out rally was started by Lilli Piper, who hit an infield single to the shortstop. During Emily Clark’s at-bat, Piper stolen second – her ninth stolen base of the year – but Clark was unable to push her in to end the half inning.
• In the top of the second, another two-out rally started with the help of an error on Pitt right fielder Alexee Haynes, allowing Ashley Goodwin to reach. The next batter, Maddie Marotti, singled to right field. A 1-6-3 inning-ending ground ball left the Scarlet and Gray off the scoreboard, however.
• Kaitlin Manuel of Pitt led off the bottom of the fourth with a sharply hit single to center and was sacrificed to second by the next batter, Valerie Ortrga. Becca Gavin made a critical defensive play, however, when she picked Manuel off of second, essentially ending the Panthers threat in that half inning.
• A one-out single off the bat of Alex Bayne followed by Piper’s third hit of the afternoon – a single to left field – put two Ohio State runners on with one out. After a fielder’s choice, Taylor White singled up the middle but Piper was thrown out at the plate attempting to extend Ohio State’s lead.
• The Buckeyes left two runners on base in the top of the sixth as Gavin and Marotti both worked walks, but a strikeout and two ground balls for the Panthers got them out of the inning unscathed.
• After quickly recording the first out in the bottom of the seventh on a strikeout, Hursh ran in to trouble as she gave up back to back hits – including a triple to center field – that drew the Panthers within one, 3-2. Shelby McCombs then came in and got a ground out and fielder’s choice at second base to shut the door for her first save of the year.
STARS OF THE GAME
Piper: 3-3, 2-R HR, 2 RBI, BB
White: 3-4, 2B, SB
Hursh: 6.1 IP, 7 hits allowed, 8 Ks
STREAKS AND SNIPITS
• Ohio State has now won 13 of 17 all-time matchups with the Panthers.
• With her three-hit effort, Piper pushed her batting average over .400 for the season (.405).
• The Buckeyes own 21 true road wins over the last two seasons.
• Hursh’s eight strikeouts give her 480 in her career.
• Ohio State’s pitching staff gave up two runs or less for the 20th time this season. It is third in the Big Ten is ERA.
• White’s stolen base – her 12th of the year – made the Buckeyes 40-of-43 on the year in steal attempts (.930).
Ohio State returns to Big Ten play this weekend when it visits East Lansing, Mich. for a three-game series against Michigan State. Friday’s game, which can be seen live on BTN, is slated for a 4 p.m. start while Saturday and Sunday’s games will start at 1 p.m. A link to live stats can be found on the schedule tab of OhioStateBuckeyes.com.