The Pitt baseball team started the weekend with a convincing win over a historic national powerhouse. But the Panthers’ bats scored just three runs in the next two games to drop their weekend series against the Miami Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes (17-19, 9-9 ACC) usually dominate the Panthers (15-17, 7-11 ACC) and the Pitt baseball team entered the three-game set with no wins over Miami to its name in program history. But the Miami program, which has won four national titles over the years, has suffered from a losing record so far this season.
The Panthers looked poised to seize a rare opportunity to win a series against the Hurricanes after a 10-3 victory in Game One, but Pitt dropped the next two games and the set against the University of Miami.
The Panthers combined effective pitching with timely hitting to come away with a series opening win over the Hurricanes.
Redshirt junior Josh Mitchell took the mound for the Panthers in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader, showing resilience early.
After a scoreless first frame, Miami redshirt senior Edgar Michelangeli hit an RBI single to left to put the Hurricanes on the board. Mitchell gave up a single and hit a batter to load the bases with one out. He then struck out the next batter before inducing an inning-ending grounder to get out of the jam.
In the bottom of the second, the Panthers responded by scoring three runs to take the lead they’d hold for the rest of the game.
First-year Nico Popa walked into the batter’s box for the Panthers with the bases loaded. Popa rose to the occasion, unleashing a triple to right which cleared the bases and gave Pitt a 3-1 advantage.
Two batters later, redshirt junior Caleb Parry plated two more with a single to right field, expanding Pitt’s lead to four.
Mitchell encountered some more trouble in the top of the fourth, after loading the bases without recording an out. Instead of trusting his starter to work out of the jam, head coach Joe Jordano went to his bullpen, bringing in first-year R.J. Freure.
Freure forced a grounder, but the Panthers elected to throw to second to get the out, conceding a run. Freure walked the next batter, so Jordano brought in another reliever to end the inning — this time senior Sam Mersing. Mersing struck out the next two batters, getting the Panthers out of the inning without further damage.
“When we got the 5-1 lead I just felt like we needed to make as many moves as possible to put us in the best position to win,” Jordano said in a press release. “Sam did a great job. He’s been really rock solid for us, pounded the zone, got out of a couple of jams and did a super job for us. We really needed that.”
Senior Manny Pazos singled in the fifth to bring in another run, making the score 6-2 Panthers. After junior Nick Banman and senior P.J. DeMeo each recorded two RBI singles in the sixth inning, the Panthers held a huge 10-2 lead.
Miami plated one more run with one out in the top of the ninth, but Mersing closed out the game with a double play to snap Pitt’s 12-game losing streak against the Miami baseball program.
First-year Dan Hammer pitched well in his first career ACC start, giving up just one run and three hits over 5 2/3 innings. But Hammer received no run support from his offense and gave up the losing run in a 1-0 pitchers’ duel.
Hammer gave up just one hit through the first four innings and no runs, but his shutout bid ended when he allowed a solo home run to left field by Michelangeli, giving the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead.
Hammer finished the fifth without further damage, but after loading the bases with two outs in the sixth, Jordano replaced Hammer with first-year Chris Gomez. Gomez struck out the next batter, keeping the Hurricanes within one.
But the Panthers couldn’t muster any offense, getting just two hits and striking out nine times during the second game of Friday’s doubleheader. Pitt went quietly in the bottom of the ninth, as the Hurricanes retired the Panthers’ batters in order to tie up the weekend series at one game apiece.
In the rubber match of the series, the Hurricanes grabbed an early lead and didn’t let go, winning 5-3 and gaining victory in the three game set.
In the top of the first inning, senior pitcher Josh Falk put runners on the corners with just one out. Miami seized its opportunity to claim the lead, as two Hurricanes players hit singles to plate one run each.
In the bottom of the fifth, redshirt senior Jacob Wright singled into center field, bringing home first-year Alex Amos to bring the Panthers within one run of Miami.
Jordano took out Falk after the sixth inning and the senior pitcher finished after giving up two runs on five hits and four walks. But Mersing, who came on in relief in the seventh inning, couldn’t escape from the mound unscathed either.
In the top of the seventh inning with runners on first and second with one out, Mersing gave up an RBI single to Miami junior Carl Chester, making the score 3-1 Hurricanes.
In the bottom of the frame, Parry smacked a single to right field, plating Popa and cutting the deficit back to one.
But after Jordano brought in junior Isaac Mattson to pitch in the eighth, Michelangeli smashed a two-run homerun to left center in the ninth to put Miami on top 5-2.
The Panthers staged an attempted comeback in the bottom of the ninth and Pazos scored from third on a sacrifice fly from Wright, but one run wasn’t enough for the Panthers to overcome the Hurricanes.
With Saturday’s 5-3 loss, the Panthers dropped the series to Miami and fell to sixth place in the ACC Coastal Division out of seven teams.
The Panthers’ next game takes place Tuesday afternoon in State College, Pennsylvania, as Pitt will match up against the Penn State Nittany Lions.