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Gateway grad pacing Pitt baseball's offense

| Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Robert Gurganus/Four Seam Images
Stephen Vranka leads the Pitt baseball team in several offensive categories. The Panthers are 11-13 in Atlantic Coast Conference play with series against Maryland and Notre Dame remaining before the ACC Tournament in two weeks.

The University of Pittsburgh baseball team took two out of three in an Atlantic Coast Conference three-game series at Boston College over the weekend.

The Panthers are fighting to get back to .500 in ACC play, and they now are 11-13 in conference.

Senior center fielder Stephen Vranka, a Gateway graduate, sparked a 16-11 win over the Eagles on Sunday with three hits in five at bats.

He also drew a walk, drove in a run and scored four times.

Vranka singled to lead off the third and later scored to spark a six-run frame. The Pitt six-run outburst followed a similar run total for Boston College in the bottom of the second.

Leading off in the fourth, Vranka collected his second single of the game and came around to score.

It was part of a three-run effort in the inning as the Panthers rallied from an 8-0 deficit to lead 9-8.

With one out and a runner on first in a 9-9 game in the top of the fifth, Vranka delivered a run-scoring triple to left center.

The RBI put Pitt back in front, 10-9.

After Boston College tied the game at 10 in the bottom of the fifth, the Panthers exploded for five runs in the top of the sixth to essentially put the game away.

Vranka walked during the inning and later scored on a double.

Through Sunday's win, Vranka, the leadoff batter in the lineup, fronted the team in several offensive categories.

He led the team with a .276 average (51 for 185), and his 51 hits also was a team high.

Vranka also topped the team in runs scored (39), doubles (13), triples (5), total bases (80), slugging percentage (.432), on-base percentage (.385) and walks (31).

In addition to the categories he led, he was fifth in RBI (22) and tied for second with seven stolen bases.

Vranka also has shown his power this season in the form of two home runs.

His offense prowess this season comes on the heels of a stellar junior campaign in 2013 that saw him earn second-team all-conference honors in Pitt's final season in the Big East.

He batted .318 with seven home runs and 47 RBI. He led the Big East and ranked 10th nationally with 65 runs scored.

The Panthers have six ACC games remaining, and that stretch run begins Friday at home against Maryland. Pitt takes on the Terrapins Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 1:05 p.m.

Pitt closes ACC play May 15 to 17 at Notre Dame before the start of the ACC Tournament on May 20 in Greensboro, N.C.�

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825, at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.

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