PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As the year 2019 comes to a close, it is time to take a look back at some of the top sports stories of the last 365 days.
It may not have been one of the most successful years in Pittsburgh sports history, but there are still some positives to highlight as we turn to a new decade.
Here is a list of five top moments in Pittsburgh sports in 2019:
5. Pitt and Penn State Earn Bowl Victories
For the Panthers, it may not have been pretty, but as they say, a win is a win when it comes to sports. Pitt beat Eastern Michigan 34 to 30 in the Quick Lane Bowl from Detroit. Kenny Pickett topped the win with a 25 yard touchdown pass to Taysir Mack to seal the win, which was Pat Narduzzi’s first bowl victory since he took over as Panthers head coach. Meanwhile, in the Cotton Bowl, #13 Penn State topped #15 Memphis 53-39. It was the most points and yards the Nittany Lions gave up in a game all season, but the PSU defense was in on the scoring themselves with a Garrett Taylor 15 yard interception for a touchdown. James Franklin took his excitement and surprise from the Gatorade bath out on a player with a perfect form tackle when the game had gone final.
4. Pitt Volleyball Wins ACC Championship and displays another record season
The Panthers volleyball team continued dominance in the ACC in 2019, going a perfect 18-0 in conference play on the way to its third straight ACC title, the team’s second outright. The Panthers were dealt a tough hand heading into the NCAA Tournament with the sixth seed. Pitt fell at the Petersen Events Center in the second round to Cincinnati to end the campaign with a 30-2 overall record. The team’s only other loss was at home to Penn State earlier in the season. Star junior Kayla Lund also earned ACC player of the year for her efforts.
3. Steelers Linebacker Ryan Shazier continues path to recovery from paralysis
Ryan Shazier, who was injured in a football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in 2017, continues to make progress in his recovery, and he showed off how well he was doing throughout 2019. Not only did he get to introduce his new son this past year, he also enrolled in college again (this time at Pitt), danced at his wedding, started a new foundation and continues to be an ambassador for the Steelers and NFL as a contributing member of the Pittsburgh community.
2. Penguins Extend Playoff Streak to 12 games
It was a very brief and forgettable playoff run for the Penguins, who were swept by the New York Islanders in the first round in the Spring of 2019. But the team did set an impressive streak, and are now the only team in the NHL to have an active playoff streak of 12 years in a row.
1. Josh Bell’s All-Star Season
The Pirates in general were out of the running for the postseason early, but Josh Bell became a bright spot for the team heading into the All-Star Break. Through 88 games last season, he lead the league with 84 RBI and 30 doubles. He was also batting .302 at the break, with 102 hits, 27 home runs and a 1.024 OPS. The Home Run Derby did not do Bell and favors, and his hot hitting did cool off significantly in the second half of the year. Bell finished his All-Star season with with a .277 batting average, 37 home runs, 116 RBI and a .936 OPS.
These are just a few of the notable sports moments and memories from 2019, as the City of Pittsburgh prepares for a new decade of highlights heading into 2020.