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Matt Berezo
Courtesy: Duke Photography
Matt Berezo
Blue Devils Fall to Panthers 3-2 in Series Opener
Friday 03/21/2014  -  Duke Sports Information
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PITTSBURGH – Redshirt senior Ryan Deitrich provided a two-run home run in the fifth, but Pitt scored single runs in the third, fifth and sixth to edge the Duke baseball team 3-2 Friday afternoon at Charles L. Cost Field at the Peterson Sports Complex. The Blue Devils left 11 runners on base as Duke dropped its sixth one-run game of the season.

“We left 11 guys on base,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “We had some offensive opportunities situationally where we didn’t execute. In our league, as good as teams are and as small as the margin of error is … when you have those opportunities and you don’t take advantage of them and then you don’t get the two-out hits to go with it, that can be the difference. I don’t think we played poorly by any stretch. We got runners in position to score. We pitched very well. We played good defense even though we had to move some guys around. We just didn’t come up with that hit in the moment that we needed. That was the difference.”

Duke (14-9, 4-3 ACC) had the leadoff man in scoring position in both the first and third innings, but couldn’t capitalize on the early opportunities. That allowed Pitt (10-10, 2-5 ACC) to take the lead, 1-0, with a lone unearned run in the bottom of the third. Second baseman Matt Johnson reached base to start things off as Andy Perez was unable to corral his pop up just behind first base. Manny Pazos laid down the sacrifice bunt and Stephen Vranka flied out in foul territory to advance the runner to third base. Johnson then scampered home on a passed ball for the opening run.

Deitrich erased the deficit with one swing of the bat, putting Duke on top 2-1 with his second home run in as many games. Senior Matt Berezo lined a base hit to lead things off and set the table for Deitrich’s two-run shot. Duke would go on to load the bases following an error and a pair of hit batters, but was unable to extend the margin.

Pitt manufactured a run in the bottom of the fifth to knot the score at two-all. Jordan Frabasilio and Johnson singled, followed by Pazos’ second sacrifice bunt. A wild pitch then permitted Frabasilio to cross home plate before starter Drew Van Orden initiated a pair of groundouts to close the frame.

The Blue Devils were unable to overcome a Casey Roche leadoff walk to start the sixth as the Pitt right fielder scored the go-ahead run on a Frabasilio RBI single.

Down by a run, Duke has its chances in both the eighth and the ninth, but the Blue Devils left two men on in both frames. Pitt’s Jon Danielcyzk pitched the final 1.2 innings without allowing a hit, striking out three to earn his first save of the season.

Pitt starter Rhys Aldenhoven (2-1) picked up the victory, scattering six hits over seven complete innings. Van Orden (1-2) pitched well in the loss, giving up three runs, two earned, on six hits over 5.1 innings of work. The Manhattan Beach, Calif., native also struck out five and walked a pair. Sophomore Nick Hendrix was solid out of the bullpen as the left hander pitched 2.2 hitless innings to keep the deficit at one run.

Duke and Pitt meet again in a doubleheader Saturday with the first game slated for a 1 p.m. opening pitch. The series finale starts 45 minutes following the conclusion of game one.

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