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Georgia Tech sweeps Pitt baseball, ending win streak

Pitt freshman pitcher Dan Hammer battled against Georgia Tech’s Keyton Gibson as the Panthers dropped the second game of the series, 4-3. TPN File Photo

Pitt freshman pitcher Dan Hammer battled against Georgia Tech’s Keyton Gibson as the Panthers dropped the second game of the series, 4-3. TPN File Photo

Pitt freshman pitcher Dan Hammer battled against Georgia Tech’s Keyton Gibson as the Panthers dropped the second game of the series, 4-3. TPN File Photo

By Ryan Zimba / Sports Editor

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Riding a four-game win streak into its weekend series against Georgia Tech, the Pitt baseball team looked to get above .500 for the first time since April 7.

Instead, the Yellow Jackets (23-21, 8-15 ACC) swept the Panthers (21-24, 8-16 ACC), winning a pair of one-run games before finishing the series with a 5-2 win on Monday.

Game One

Both offenses were in rhythm at the start of the series, resulting in a combined 15-run game Friday. The Yellow Jackets escaped with the win on a walk-off sacrifice fly by freshman Chase Murray.

After a scoreless first inning, the Panthers got on the board in the top of the second with a three-run home run by redshirt senior Jacob Wright. Pitt redshirt junior pitcher Josh Mitchell retired the side in the bottom of the frame, giving the Panthers a 3-0 lead entering the third.

Pitt extended its lead in the third and fifth, with freshman Alex Amos scoring twice on a pair of sacrifice flies by senior PJ DeMeo. Down 5-0, Georgia Tech struck in the bottom of the fifth, scoring five runs to tie the game.

Leading off the inning, sophomore Brandt Stallings hit a solo home run to left field, cutting the deficit to four. Two batters later, junior Wade Bailey singled and was driven in by junior Trevor Craport, making it 5-2. A single by sophomore Joey Bart scored Craport, and Pitt head coach Joe Jordano had seen enough, replacing Mitchell with senior pitcher Sam Mersing. The team continued to struggle though, giving up two more runs before collecting the final out.

Neither team broke the stalemate in the sixth, but the Panthers retook the lead to start the seventh on DeMeo’s third sacrifice fly RBI of the game. The lead wouldn’t last long, as the Yellow Jackets drew a walk to leadoff the bottom of the inning before junior Kel Johnson hit a two-run shot to put his team up 7-6.

In the ninth, the Panthers needed to score to keep the game alive. Redshirt junior Caleb Parry led off with a double down the left field line and was advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Amos. With one out, redshirt junior Frank Maldonado singled into right field, bringing home Parry to tie the game at 7. It was all the Panthers could get, but it was enough to extend the contest.

Pitt freshman pitcher Chris Gomez — who came on as relief in the seventh — got into trouble right away and faced a bases-loaded jam with only one out. Murray came to the plate, lifting the ball into right field. Panther freshman Nico Popa made the catch, but Georgia Tech redshirt senior Coleman Poje tagged up to give his team the walk-off win.

Game Two

On Sunday, Pitt freshman pitcher Dan Hammer battled against Georgia Tech’s Keyton Gibson as the Panthers dropped the second game of the series, 4-3.

Both Hammer and Gibson started well on the mound, combining for six strikeouts in the first two innings. Neither offense scored until the bottom of the third, when the Yellow Jackets put up two on a sacrifice fly by Craport and and an RBI single by Bart.

Maldonado hit a one-out single in the top of the fourth, but the Panthers couldn’t score as junior Nick Banman popped up and DeMeo struck out. In the bottom of the frame, Hammer retired the side in order and Pitt went into the fifth down 2-0.

Senior catcher Manny Pazos led off the inning with a double to left field. He scored one batter later when Gibson committed a throwing error. Popa then reached first on an infield single, advancing to second on a throwing error by Craport. He came in two batters later, taking home when Craport threw a wild pitch. Parry flied out to end the inning, but the Panthers had tied the game at two.

The Yellow Jackets got one back in the bottom of the inning as Murray scored on a triple by Bailey. Craport grounded the ball to the shortstop on the next at-bat and was out at first. Bailey broke for home on the throw but was tagged out, ending the inning.

After neither team scored in the sixth, Georgia Tech extended its lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Murray. Pitt answered in the eighth with a sacrifice fly of their own. Banman hit the ball to left field, and it was deep enough to bring Parry home.

Heading into the ninth, the Panthers were down 4-3. Georgia Tech pitcher Zac Ryan quickly ended any chance of a walk-off, retiring the Pitt lineup in order as the Yellow Jackets left with another one-run win.

Game Three

Senior pitcher Josh Falk struggled for the Panthers Monday night, as Georgia Tech swept the series with a 4-1 win.

The Yellow Jackets got on the board right away, taking a 1-0 lead with no outs on an RBI double by senior Ryan Peurifoy. The lead grew to two a few batters later, as Falk threw a wild pitch allowing Craport to score. Falk responded to end the inning with a strikeout of Poje.

Georgia Tech scored another in the second and Pitt was in a 3-0 hole entering the third. Neither team scored in the ensuing inning, and the Panthers cut the deficit to two in the top of the fourth on an RBI double from Maldonado. Georgia Tech answered though, scoring one in the bottom of the inning when freshman Austin Wilhite scored on a double by Stallings.

Both pitchers seemed to find their rhythm in the next few frames, as the teams combined for just three hits in as many innings.

In the eighth, the Panthers had an opportunity to do some damage with had runners on the corners and Parry coming to the plate. Parry came through, singling to right field and bringing home Banman to make it 4-2. The team couldn’t add any more though, as Amos struck out looking to end the inning.

Mersing — who replaced Falk in the seventh — couldn’t hold the Yellow Jackets in the eighth. He didn’t get any help from his defense as Banman failed to field a critical ball at third base. The play put runners at first and second with nobody out, and Georgia Tech capitalized on a single by Murray to go up 5-2.

The Panthers couldn’t get anything going in the ninth, and Georgia Tech won the final game of the series to earn a crucial sweep.

Heading into the final stretch of the season, Pitt is in danger of missing out on the ACC Tournament. The tournament accepts the top 12 teams in the conference, and the Panthers are currently tied for 12th with Virginia Tech. Boston College is in last place with an 8-19 conference record.

The Panthers have six conference games remaining — three each against North Carolina State and Wake Forest. But before they return to conference play, the team has a mid-week home game against Youngstown State Wednesday at 6 p.m.

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Georgia Tech sweeps Pitt baseball, ending win streak