Panthers can’t complete comeback at Kent State, fall 7-6


Senior shortstop P.J. DeMeo puts the ball in play against Notre Dame last weekend. Anna Bongardino | Staff Photographer

By Bayard Miller | Assistant Sports Editor

Despite beginning the game with an early lead and a late offensive surge, the Pitt baseball team couldn’t come back against the hosting Kent State Golden Flashes Tuesday afternoon.

Facing a three-run deficit in the ninth inning, the Panthers (8-10, 1-5 ACC) were able to plate two to make the score 7-6 against Kent State (12-6). But the game ended there with Pitt unable to complete the comeback.

The game started well for Pitt as the team jumped out to a one run lead. Redshirt senior Jacob Wright drew a walk to lead off the game, and redshirt junior Caleb Parry was hit by a pitch. Redshirt junior Frank Maldonado made his way to the plate with runners on first and second with one out. Maldonado reached base on a throwing error by the Kent State second baseman, scoring Wright from second.

First-year Dan Hammer took the mound for the Panthers and pitched effectively early. Through the first four frames, Hammer allowed just two hits. But the Golden Flashes turned the offense on in the fifth, scoring two runs off of three hits to take the lead.

The Panthers immediately responded in the top of the sixth. With the bases loaded and one out, first-year Alex Amos hit a fly ball to center field, deep enough to score junior Nick Banman from third on the sacrifice. One batter later, sophomore Yaya Chentouf singled to left, bringing in senior PJ DeMeo and putting Pitt ahead, 3-2.

Despite scoring two, the Panthers ended the inning with a bases loaded groundout to short from junior Kaylor Kulina, stranding three baserunners. This missed opportunity would prove costly for the Panthers later in the inning.

Hammer was unable to record an out in the bottom of the sixth for the Panthers. He gave up two singles before an error by second baseman Amos allowed the Golden Flashes to tie up the game at three runs apiece. First-year Chris Gomez replaced Hammer on the mound and minimized the damage, striking out a batter before inducing an inning-ending double play.

In the seventh inning, the Panthers retook the lead off a sacrifice fly to center from DeMeo, plating Parry. But again, Pitt was unable to capitalize in a key scoring opportunity with Chentouf striking out swinging with the bases loaded to end the inning.

In the bottom half of the same inning, Kent State seized the lead — and didn’t let it go for the rest of the game. With two outs and two runners on base, Kent State’s Dylan Rosa hit a three-run home run to left field. Gomez gave up three more singles in the inning, allowing the Golden Flashes to tack on an insurance run and giving them a 7-3 advantage.

After a quiet eighth inning, Pitt mounted a last-ditch comeback attempt in the top of the ninth. After Maldonado struck out to start the inning, Banman walked and DeMeo was hit by a pitch to put men on first and second. Sophomore Alex Griffith stroked a single into right, scoring Banman and advancing DeMeo to third. Amos came to the plate next and scored DeMeo on a grounder to short, bringing the Panthers within one run on his fielder’s choice.

Chentouf singled next, but the rally stalled when Wright — who led off the game — fouled out to finish it. Despite their best efforts, the Panthers were unable to climb back from their deficit and dropped the game by a score of 7-6.

Pitt will resume action this weekend when it hosts the Virginia Tech Hokies at Cost Field for a three game series. First pitch is at 3 p.m. on Friday.

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