From the football field to the baseball and softball diamonds, Penn State just can’t find a way to beat Pitt.
The Pitt baseball team (16-17, 7-11 ACC) annihilated the Nittany Lions (12-24, 1-8 Big Ten) Tuesday night in State College, Pennsylvania, rolling to a 9-1 win to sweep the season series in the heated rivalry. Redshirt junior center fielder Frank Maldonado had three hits for the Panthers, and first-year reliever Chris Gomez tossed 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief in Pitt’s victory.
Penn State outhit the Panthers, 10-8, but Pitt played a nearly flawless game in the field while several costly errors on defense doomed the Nittany Lions.
“I am very pleased with the way we played tonight,” Pitt head coach Joe Jordano said in a press release after the game. “We took advantage of some mistakes by Penn State and had some solid situational at-bats that produced runs. We played a great game defensively. It was a very well-played game for us.”
Redshirt senior outfielder Jacob Wright led the game off with a triple for the Panthers, then redshirt junior first baseman Caleb Parry followed with an RBI single to give Pitt an early lead. Wright then singled home senior shortstop P.J. DeMeo after DeMeo reached on an error to make it a 2-0 game in the top of the second.
Lefty Josh Mitchell got the start for the Panthers and put up a scoreless bottom of the first inning, but Jordano decided to remove the redshirt junior after one inning, inserting Gomez for the bottom of the second. Gomez recorded a 1-2-3 inning in the second and another scoreless inning in the third.
Senior catcher Manny Pazos reached on an error to start off the top of the fourth, then took second base on a wild pitch and advanced to third on a throwing error by Penn State catcher Brett Davis. Another wild pitch by Nittany Lions starter Schuyler Bates allowed Pazos to come home and score.
Dakota Forsyth came out of the bullpen to relieve Bates but didn’t provide much respite for Penn State. He threw a wild pitch to the first batter he faced, and DeMeo scored to give Pitt a 4-0 lead without recording a single hit in the inning.
Sloppy play in the field continued to haunt the Nittany Lions in the fifth. First, singles by sophomore outfielder Yaya Chentouf and Maldonado put runners on first and second, then junior third baseman Nick Banman drew a walk to load the bases.
Penn State left fielder Nick Riotto then committed the Nittany Lions’ fourth error of the game on a ball hit by Pazos. He still managed to throw out Pazos at first base, but Chentouf and Maldonado scored on the play to give the Panthers a comfortable 6-0 advantage.
Meanwhile, Gomez continued to dominate on the mound, striking out the side in the bottom of the fifth to keep Penn State off the board.
Right-hander Tom Mullin came in to relieve Forsyth in the top of the sixth and promptly hit the first batter he faced, first-year second baseman Alex Amos. Amos advanced to third after a couple of groundouts, then scored after another defensive miscue by the Nittany Lions — this one by third baseman Logan Goodnight.
Mullin couldn’t find a way to throw the ball over the plate, hitting Chentouf and walking Maldonado on four pitches to load the bases. When he did throw a strike, Banman made him pay by delivering a two-run single through the right side. That was it for Mullin, as first-year reliever Tucker Triebold replaced him with Pitt leading 9-0.
Penn State would tack on a meaningless run in the bottom of the ninth to break the shutout, but the Panthers came away with a convincing 9-1 win.
Pitt will get right back in action Wednesday night when they host the Kent State Golden Flashes at the Charles L. Cost Field at 6 p.m.