Roberts came on for the final inning-and-a-third of the first game and tossed a five-hit shutout in the nightcap. Roberts is now 10-4 on the season and ranks second in the LEC in wins. Roberts allowed just five hits and a walk in the five-inning whitewash and struck out one.
For the season, Roberts has appeared in 15 games as a pitcher, starting 10. In 70 2/3 innings, she's allowed 73 hits, walked 33 and struck out 39 while posting a 2.48 ERA.
PSU, 22-13 overall, moves into second place in the LEC with a 7-3 mark, while UMB drops to 11-23 overall and 2-8 in the Little East.
The Panthers wrap up the regular season this week with a pair of pivotal LEC doubleheaders, Wednesday at Keene State College and Saturday at home against Western Connecticut State University. UMB returns home to host the University of Southern Maine for two on Wednesday.
Last Updated on Monday, 06 May 2013 02:55
"This will be a key start for the lefty, pitching for his spot in the rotation with two veterans (Francisco Liriano, Charlie Morton) weeks from completing rehabs," the Pirates website states. "Two musts for Locke: Get ahead, and keep the ball down."
Locke, 1-1 with a 5.17 earned run average, will be opposed by Philadelphia's ace Cole Hamels, 0-2, 6.46 ERA, who has gotten off to a rough start. He allowed five hits, three runs, two walks and struck out eight in seven innings Thursday against St. Louis, but a lack of run support cost him for the second consecutive start.
The long ball was enemy for Locke, the son of Pam and Alan Locke, of Redstone, on Thursday. He gave up a leadoff home run to open the game at home against Atlanta; surrendered a two-run shot in the third; and a blast to open the fifth. His night ended after 4 2/3 innings.
B.J. Upton began the game with a homer.
"It's deflating to start off the game like that," Locke said of the first game-opening homer he allowed in his brief (13 starts) Major League career. "It's tough, takes the wind out of your sails. But you've got to keep competing, which I did, although the long ball obviously hurt me."
In the third, Locke issued a two-out walk to Justin Upton, then served up a two-run blow to noted Pirates nemesis Chris Johnson. Two innings after that, Justin Upton got his own long ball.
Johnson's homer came on a 1-and-0 count, J. Upton's on 3-and-1. Those sequences were exceptions for Locke on a night when he was sharp overall, starting 14 of the 22 batters he faced with strikes.
But because he doesn't have overpowering stuff, it isn't enough for Locke to get ahead in the count. He must stay ahead.
"The one thing that continues to challenge him is overall consistency," said Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle. "Some sequences are sharp, but there are too many misses. He's got to get ahead of more counts, to pitch competitively up here."
"Biggest thing for me, I need to get ahead of those people," said the young lefty. "It goes back to basics: Get ahead and make them hit your pitch; that goes back to Little League. Just poor execution."
Pittsburgh left-hander Jeff Locke's job security is tenuous. He won a starting spot almost by default after injuries to Jeff Karstens and Francisco Liriano gave the Pirates a major hole at the back end of the rotation.
Locke's first two starts were adequate and Hurdle said there is a "window" for Locke to convince the Pirates to keep him around even after Liriano and Karstens return.
According to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the major league average in 2012 of home runs per nine innings was 1. Locke allowed 1.6 home runs per nine innings from 2011-12, though he allowed only one in 11 innings this season before Thursday.
"He has not been ahead of the counts he needs to be ahead of to pitch competitively up here," Hurdle said. "It's really been a tough battle to pitch behind in counts here and have success."
Locke put B.J. Upton in an 0-2 count to start the game, then threw a belt-high fastball over the middle of the plate. Upton smacked it into the bleachers in left field for his second home run of the season.
"Leading off the game, he's protecting the plate, 0-2," Locke said. "He sees that fastball coming out, he's ready and raring to go.
"You got to make somebody hit your pitch."
Locke left another fastball up and over the plate, this one to Johnson in the third, and Johnson hit a two-run home run to dead center to give the Braves a 3-2 lead.
Justin Upton, who led the majors in home runs with eight entering the game, erased a tie in the fifth. He hit a 3-1 changeup that was low but over the plate off the rotunda in left field, giving the Braves a 4-3 lead.
"I felt like it was one of the best changeups I threw the whole night," Locke said. "It just looked like he knew what it was right out of the hand.
"I feel like on that pitch right there, he beat me. On the other homers, I beat myself."
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Pirates contributed to this story.
Last Updated on Monday, 22 April 2013 04:10
PSU junior Bekah Jackson (Nashua, N.H./North) and sophomore Whitney Roberts (Chocorua, N.H./Kennett) were named LEC Softball Player and Rookie of the Week, respectively. Both played key roles last week as the Panther teams posted key conference victories.
A 5'7" pitcher/outfielder, Roberts went 2-0 with a 0.98 earned run average in three appearances for PSU. She allowed just one run on four hits and no walks in each of her two starts, striking out six in a six-inning win Wednesday against Lyndon State, and fanning two in Saturday's 2-1 complete-game victory over Eastern Connecticut that snapped ECSU's 21-game conference winning streak. She also batted .444 (4-for-9) with a double and three RBI in limited action at the plate.
Roberts is enjoying a strong rookie season for PSU with an 8-3 record and a 2.40 earned run average. She ranks second in the LEC in wins and third in ERA.
A 5'4" shortstop, Jackson batted .643 (18-for-28) in a 6-2 week for PSU, hitting safely in all eight games with 10 extra-base hits, 11 RBI, 14 runs scored and six stolen bases. She cracked three doubles, four triples and three home runs in the eight games while making just one error at shortstop in 38 attempts (19-18-1). She went 5-for-5 with a triple and two RBI Tuesday in a win over Castleton and she hit a grand slam in the nightcap Sunday as the Panthers swept New England College.
Jackson is among the NCAA Division III leaders with a school-record nine triples, and ranks among the LEC leaders in numerous offensive categories; she leads the league in triples and stolen bases (17), ranks second in batting average (.506), hits (41), runs (35), total bases (82), on-base percentage (.574), and slugging percentage (1.012), ranks third in home runs (5) and RBI (25), and fourth in doubles (8).
The PSU softball team (18-11 overall, 3-3 LEC) continued an eight-game home stand Tuesday with a Little East doubleheader at D&M Park against the University of Southern Maine (3:30 p.m.).
Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 04:18