Takeaways | Pitt baseball bounces back from tough start, offense is on fire


Nate Yonamine | Senior Staff Photographer

Junior outfielder CJ Funk (39) hits the ball in a game against Louisville on April 3, 2022.

By David Scott, Staff Writer

Over the weekend Pitt baseball bounced back after their shaky start to the season, taking three out of four against Harvard, including a walk-off grand slam in the opening contest.

This series saw a much better result than last weekend for the Panthers as they won game one 12-10, lost game two 4-8, won game three 11-3 and won game four 17-7. The Panthers’ bats are hot heading into the home opener. Here are some takeaways from the series.

All Pitt needs is an average pitching staff

While it still wasn’t a great weekend for Pitt’s pitching staff, they improved in comparison to opening weekend. Against Maine, they gave up 10, 11 and eight runs in the three-game series. 

Against Harvard, the Panthers gave up 10, eight, three and seven runs. That’s an improved seven runs per game against Harvard compared to 9.66 against Maine. While it’s still not great, it gives the Panthers hitters a much better opportunity to win games.

Despite the improved weekend, the Panthers now own the ACC’s worst pitching staff ERA of 7.65. However, the team batting average is good for No. 7 in the ACC at .315. With a slight improvement from the pitching staff, the Panthers have a chance to compete in an extremely competitive ACC.

Pitt used just two pitchers against Harvard in game three of the series. Junior Jack Sokol and Junior Dylan Simmons combined over seven innings, allowing just three runs. Sokol struck out five batters over four innings while allowing two earned runs, and Simmons struck out six over three innings while only giving up an unearned run. These are the performances that Pitt needs to win games.

On the other hand, Pitt also showed that there is still a lot to desire from the pitching staff in game one of the series. 

The Panthers pitching staff once again gave up double digit runs and only escaped with a win thanks to a walk-off home run. Junior Kyle Mosley started the game and gave up three earned runs over four innings. Junior Zack Oswald came in for an inning and didn’t allow any runs. Sophomore Jonathan Bautista and grad student Nash Bryan closed out the game and gave up three earned runs and one earned run respectively.

The recipe is simple for the Pitt pitching staff — limit the walks and limit the home runs. They lead the ACC with 42 walks allowed, and they’re second in the ACC with nine home runs given up. Pitt also leads the ACC with 78 hits allowed. With how strong the offense is, the Panthers can sneak by with average pitching performances and still win games in the ACC.

Pitt batters are keeping the team afloat

The alarm bells are a lot quieter when looking at the batting side of the stat sheet. Pitt’s offense averaged 11 runs per game against Harvard in the four-game series. They’re in the top half of the ACC in batting average, runs scored, doubles, triples and runs batted in.

The offense started strong in game one of the series where the Panthers scored 12 runs and won thanks to senior infielder Noah Martinez’s walk-off grand slam. 

Pitt’s veterans continued to anchor the team, with graduate infielder Sky Duff scoring three runs thanks to a hit and three walks and junior infielder CJ Funk scoring twice and driving in two runs with a double and two walks. Martinez racked up five RBI thanks to his grand slam and an RBI walk in the second inning.

After being held to four runs in game two, Pitt exploded with an 11-3 win in game three of the series. Funk continued his solid weekend, starting the game off with a two-run homer in the first inning. 

Duff once again scored multiple runs off of three hits and also notched an RBI single. Martinez continued his hot streak, going deep once again, this time with a three-run home run and added on a sacrifice fly in a four-RBI day.

The offense really exploded in game four, and the Panthers knocked around Harvard for 17 runs. After falling behind 3-0 in the first inning, Pitt took the lead in the fourth and never gave it back. 

Among those having impressive days in the blowout were senior infielder Jack Anderson, who hit a grand slam and tallied five total RBI on the day. Duff stayed hot, scoring three runs and knocking in three RBI. Funk scored two runs on the day, and sophomore catcher Jayden Melendez knocked in three RBI and scored a run.

Pitt’s offense has what it takes to win ball games. There are five Panthers with batting averages over .300 and four with slugging percentages over .600. If the pitching staff keeps things close, the batters will win games, but it’s going to come down to whether or not the Pitt pitchers can clean up their performances. For now, the bats are doing enough to keep the Panthers above .500 at four wins and three losses as they get ready for their home opener.

The Panthers debut at home at Charles L. Cost field on Tuesday at 3 p.m. against Bucknell.