Pitt baseball sweeps three-game series vs. Siena


Pitt senior Josh Falk picked up his second win of the season in the Panthers' 11-5 victory Saturday vs. Siena. Matt Hawley | Staff Photographer

By David Leftwich | Staff Writer

After a 3-1 showing in the season-opening Sunshine State Classic, the Pitt baseball team continued nonconference play in Florida by sweeping a three-game series against the Siena Saints.

Pitt (6-1) took some time to get its offense going in the series opener Friday, but the team’s bats came alive later on in an 8-2 win. The Panthers then took both games from the Saints in a Saturday doubleheader, winning 6-4 and 11-5 to come away with the series sweep.

“I thought we got off to a really slow start due to the starter from Siena leaving us off-balance,” Pitt head coach Joe Jordano said Friday in a press release. “He did a really solid job. We took advantage of offensive opportunities and got a big hit by [David] Yanni with two out and two on to give us the 4-2 lead.”

Game one

In the first game of the series Friday night, Pitt faced a 2-1 deficit before grabbing a run in the sixth. The teams went to the seventh inning all tied up, but the Panthers tallied six runs in the inning to put the game out of reach.

Pitt started the inning with two straight walks to runners on first and second. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runners up, Yanni smacked a double down the right field line to bring the two baserunners home and give the Panthers the lead.

Siena’s pitching began to implode at that point, giving up two walks, hitting a batter and throwing a wild pitch and passed ball. Capitalizing on these mistakes, Pitt pieced together a few hits to turn the seventh inning into a six-run outburst.

After taking over for redshirt junior starting pitcher Matt Pidich in the seventh, first-year reliever R.J. Freure shut the Saints down over the next three innings to record his second win of the season.

“Matt threw a solid game, but was getting behind hitters quite a bit, but he is a competitor and worked through it and settled in, giving us six innings,” Jordano said in the press release. “R.J. came in and held Siena in check for the final three innings.”

Game two

The Panthers struck first in the fourth inning Saturday afternoon, taking a 2-0 lead on a two-run homer by junior designated hitter Nick Banman, the first of his Pitt career.

Siena responded in the top of the fifth, capitalizing on a pair of Panthers errors to take a 3-2 lead. Redshirt junior pitcher Josh Mitchell pitched four scoreless innings before giving up three runs in the fifth. That prompted Jordano to call on first-year reliever Chris Gomez, who made his collegiate debut for Pitt to start the sixth.

The Panthers tied the game in the bottom of the fifth when senior catcher Manny Pazos scored after a leadoff double, then regained the lead in the seventh inning after another leadoff double by Pazos. Senior infielder P.J. Demeo followed with a double of his own to bring Pazos home, then scored on an error to make it 5-3.

Pitt pushed home one more run in the inning to take a three-run lead into the eighth. The Saints cut the Panthers’ lead to two, but Pitt’s sophomore closer Yaya Chentouf came in for the ninth inning and finished off the 6-4 win to earn his second save of the season.

Game three

Finishing off the weekend in style, the Panthers jumped out to a commanding 6-0 lead in game three after scoring three runs apiece in the first and second innings.

Siena made a dent in the lead with two runs in the third, but Pitt continued its offensive assault with three more runs in the third.

First-year infielder Alex Amos and outfielder Nico Popa each drove in a run with RBI singles, then redshirt senior outfielder Jacob Wright doubled to right field to drive in Amos, giving the Panthers a 9-2 lead.

Pitt scored twice more in the fifth inning to push its lead to 11-2, then cruised the rest of the way to clinch the 11-5 win and series sweep.

The Panthers will move on to face Wofford at 5 p.m. Friday, March 3, in Spartanburg, South Carolina, followed by a pair of matchups against USC Upstate on Saturday, March 4, and a showdown with Wright State at noon Sunday, March 5.

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