Sophomore Olivia Gray offered a promising start to the Panthers’ matchup against Ohio State Tuesday afternoon, smacking a leadoff home run over the center field fence to give Pitt an early 1-0 lead in the first inning.
“As the first batter, your job is to set the tone for the game, and ideally, that’s what I try to do every time I get up there,” Gray said.
But after Gray’s blast, Pitt’s batters couldn’t give junior pitcher Kayla Harris the run support she needed. The team ultimately lost to the Ohio State Buckeyes despite mounting a small comeback attempt in the seventh.
The Panthers (21-20, 4-14 ACC) couldn’t overcome a late deficit and fell to the No. 25 Buckeyes (27-11, 10-4 Big Ten) in a 3-2 home loss.
Despite giving up 11 hits and three walks, Harris kept the Panthers close, allowing only three runs in her complete game outing.
“Our pitcher’s job is to keep us in a small run differential, and Kayla did a great job of that,” head coach Holly Aprile said.
The Panthers’ advantage couldn’t score any more runs in the first, and their lead over Ohio State disappeared in the top of the third inning.
After starting the inning by giving up a single to Ohio State senior Anna Kirk, Harris rebounded by striking out the next batter she faced for the first out of the inning.
But Harris couldn’t put away sophomore Lilli Piper, who promptly laced a two-run homer over the left field wall to put the Buckeyes on top, 2-1.
“I knew going into it that they were a really good lineup, that they had a lot of power, that they were good hitters,” Harris said. “I think they got into my head a little bit.”
The Buckeyes threatened again in the top of the fifth inning, putting runners on first and second with one out. Harris induced a grounder to get the second out on a fielder’s choice, but the next batter, junior Taylor White, singled into center field.
Piper tried to score from second on the hit, but junior centerfielder Erin Hershman gunned Piper down at home, preventing Ohio State from lengthening its lead and ending the inning.
In the top of the seventh, with runners on second and third, Harris gave up a one-out single to White, plating the Buckeyes’ third and final run of the game.
In the bottom of the frame, the Panthers launched a last-ditch comeback attempt.
Sophomore outfielder Taylor Myers drove the ball into a centerfield with one out and raced around the bases for a triple. Gray followed her with a single, driving in her second run of the day and shrinking the Panthers’ deficit to just one.
But Pitt’s bats went silent, and the Panthers were unable to record another hit. Three batters later, the game ended in a 3-2 defeat for the Panthers.
This weekend, the Panthers will remain in Pittsburgh to take on the North Carolina State Wolfpack in a three-game ACC series.