Baseball takes two of three from No. 11 Louisville


Nate Yonamine | Staff Photographer

Pitt sophomore outfielder CJ Funk (39) bats at Sunday’s game against Louisville.

By Jack Markowski, Staff Writer

Pitt baseball (15-11 overall, 5-6 ACC) played a crucial series this weekend at Cost Field against No. 11 Louisville (21-7, 7-2 ACC), who were undefeated in conference play arriving in Pittsburgh. After sweeping a doubleheader against another ranked conference opponent in No. 20 Clemson last weekend, the Panthers looked to keep the positive momentum rolling.

In the doubleheader’s first game on Saturday, senior right-hander Matt Gilbertson toed the rubber and shut down the Cardinals’ offense in the top of the first inning. In the bottom half of the frame, a leadoff double by junior center fielder Kyle Hess and a pair of wild pitches led to two runs and a 2-0 lead for Pitt.

The Panthers picked up where they left off in the bottom of the second with a three-run inning that included an RBI double from sophomore right fielder CJ Funk and an RBI single from junior third baseman Sky Duff to grow the lead to 5-0.

Gilbertson stymied Louisville over the course of the next three innings, while Hess hit a home run in the bottom of the fourth to make it 6-0.

That score stood until the top of the sixth inning as the Cardinals offense came alive. A solo shot from senior outfielder Cameron Masterman and an RBI double down the left field line from senior outfielder Levi Usher shrunk Pitt’s lead to 6-2.

Gilbertson’s day ended after a scoreless top of the seventh, having struck out eight and given up two runs on eight hits.

The Panthers tacked on a couple of insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh, thanks to an RBI single from senior first baseman Bryce Hulett and smart base running from senior left fielder Ron Washington Jr. on a rundown to push the lead to 8-2.

After a quiet eighth inning, the first four Louisville hitters of the ninth inning reached base against senior reliever Baron Stuart. After a fielder’s choice made it 8-3, senior Ben Metzinger narrowed it to 8-7 with a three-run blast.

Despite the scare, Stuart locked in and retired the next two hitters to secure the 8-7 victory for Pitt, giving them their third straight win against a ranked opponent.

Louisville built on its momentum early on in the second game, scoring two runs on an RBI single from sophomore designated hitter Jack Payton to make it 2-0 in the first inning against sophomore starter Logan Evans.

The Cardinals added four runs in the top of the third to grow the lead to 6-0, and Hess hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning to make it 6-2.

Louisville knocked Evans out of the game with a four-run top of the fourth that included a two-run blast from Usher.

Evans’ final line was 10 runs, eight earned, given up on 13 hits with one strikeout over his 3 ⅓  innings of work.

A solo homer from Funk made it 10-3 in the bottom of the fifth, and was the last of the damage surrendered by senior Jared Poland over six strong innings of work.

The game entered a standstill until the top of the eighth inning when junior Dalton Rushing piled further onto Louisville’s lead with a home run to make it 12-4.

The Panthers scored on an RBI single from Washington in the bottom of the frame before Louisville tallied two more insurance runs in the top of the ninth, leading to a 14-4 score. Pitt added two runs in the bottom of the ninth for good measure, but the Cardinals ultimately closed the game out and earned a split on the day with a 14-6 win.

In the final game of the series on Sunday, the Panthers battled the frigid weather in the bottom of the first inning and brought home two runs on a Washington double down the left field line.

A solo home run from Funk made it 3-0 in the bottom of the second. Pitt threatened once again in the bottom of the third with runners at the corners and one out, but nothing came of it. 

Junior starting pitcher Billy Corcoran carried a perfect game into the fifth inning before the Cardinals ultimately got on the board with two runs in the frame, cutting the Panther lead to 3-2.

Hulett led off the bottom of the sixth with a homer to right field to make it 4-2, which was the end of the line for Louisville sophomore starter Riley Phillips.

A quick top of the seventh from Corcoran was followed by a two-run blast from Washington to give the Panthers insurance and a 6-2 lead.

Despite a solo homer in the top of the ninth to make it 6-3, Corcoran finished off a complete game with nine strikeouts on 113 pitches to secure a series victory for Pitt.

The Panthers will play a pair of non-conference games against Kent State and Youngstown State during the week, before heading to Brighton, Massachusetts, for a weekend series with Boston College.