A furious, late-game rally was not quite enough for Air Force baseball, as it fell to Pittburgh, 10-9, in final day action Sunday at the 2009 Service Academies Spring Classic at USA Stadium. The loss drops the Falcons to 1-2 on the season while the Panthers improved to 1-1.
After Pittsburgh jumped out to an 8-3 lead after five innings, the Falcons came alive late. A three-run seventh pulled the Falcons to within two runs but the Panthers responded with two runs of their own in the bottom-half of the inning to lead 10-6.
Air Force plated three runs in a wild ninth inning and had a chance to tie. But with a runner on second, Pitt closer Nathan Hood struck out back-to-back Falcons to end the game and pick up the save.
Reliever Matt Ianozzo (1-0) picked up the win for the Panthers, striking out six in five innings, allowing five runs, two earned. Pitt starter Corey Baker went just two innings, allowing three runs while striking out three.
Air Force starter Jake Petro (0-1) took the loss, allowing eight runs, four earned, in four innings pitched. Casey Allen, Andrew Loyd, Michael Ruvolo and Aaron Kurcz also pitched in relief for the Falcons.
Pitt had 11 hits in the game. Joe Leonard had three hits and Chris Sedon and Cory Brownstein homered for the Panthers.
Air Force had 13 hits in the game. Vai Schierholtz went 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBIs. K.J. Randhawa, Parker Mayo and Jack Lupo also had two hits each for the Falcons, with Lupo hitting his first-career homer.
A four-run first inning gave Pitt a big early lead. The Falcons rallied back with two in the third and one in the fourth. But the Panthers scored three in the third and one more in the fifth to lead 8-3 after five.
The Falcons pieced together the three runs in the seventh. Mat Alexander scored the first run on a ground out to the pitcher by Daniel Walker. Mayo then singled-in Addison Gentry and then Schierholtz doubled down the left field line to score Lupo.
In the ninth, Gentry led-off the inning with a single and then Lupo struck with a two-run homer to make it a 10-8 game. Later in the inning, Parker Mayo singled with one out and was replaced by pinch-runner Tytus Moss, who immediately stole second. Schierholtz then came through with another double to score Moss and make it a one run game. That was as far as Air Force could get, as Hood closed the game out afterwards.
The Falcons return to action next weekend, with a three-day, four-game series at Charleston Southern. The first game will take place Friday, Feb. 27, at 2 p.m. EST.