Baseball: Panthers drop final series at Trees Field, now look ahead to postseason

By Alex Oltmanns

The Pitt baseball team lost at home to South Florida this weekend. Then, the Panthers… The Pitt baseball team lost at home to South Florida this weekend. Then, the Panthers followed the Bulls back to the beach.

This year’s Big East tournament is in Tampa Bay in Clearwater, Fla. The tournament starts today when the No. 3 seed Panthers take on No. 6 seed Rutgers at 10 a.m. in the first game. The team can only afford two losses in the double-elimination bracket.

Pitt enters the game after losing two of three games in the South Florida series. It was Pitt’s first series loss since the first week of April when it lost to Rutgers.

The players know that while they might have lost a couple of games in a row, their efforts are solely focused on postseason play right now.

“Unfortunately, it had to happen, but it was a humbling experience,” junior outfielder John Schultz said. “Going into the tournament, it did kind of serve as a wake-up call.”

It was Schultz’s walk-off two-run homer in the ninth inning of the first game against the Bulls Thursday that gave the Panthers (37-14, 18-6 Big East) an 8-7 win and the most conference wins in school history.

“I’ve never had a walk-off hit before that,” Schultz said. “To do that in a situation where we needed a win, that was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.”

There weren’t too many highlights for Pitt in the second day of the series against South Florida, as they dropped a doubleheader by scores of 7-3 and 14-12 in 10 innings.

In game one, Schultz continued his hot hitting with his second homer of the series, but it wasn’t enough to dig the Panthers out of a 7-0 hole.

In game two, Pitt quickly fell behind again 6-0 but some timely hitting, led by two David Chester homeruns, brought them back and put them ahead 11-9 entering the ninth inning.

But the Panthers couldn’t hold the lead, dropping their regular-season finale and the final game at Trees Field. The Panthers will move into the new Petersen Sports Complex next season.

But with that behind them, they still have a great chance to make some noise in the Big East tournament, as they have proven all season that they can play with some of the best teams in the country.

The postseason brings added pressure, but the Panthers know they have to treat their first game against the Scarlet Knights just like any other.

“Nothing really changes,” Schultz said. “We have Corey Baker on the mound who’s done a fantastic job for us all year.”

Depending on the outcome of its first game, Pitt will play Thursday, against either the winner or loser of the Connecticut-Cincinnati game.

Batter Blogs

Schultz’s play on the field speaks for itself: He batted .406 with four homeruns and 48 RBIs this season. He also broke Pitt’s record for walks in a single season with 53.

Schultz is making news off the field as well with his blog dedicated to Pitt baseball on

The blog reports on the daily activities of the team and takes a sometimes comedic but insightful glance at the team’s coaches and student-athletes who have taken part in this record-breaking season for the Panthers.

“I just wanted everyone that read the blog to kind of get a feel for what every day in the life of a college baseball player was like,” Schultz said. “Just the chemistry that was going on between our team and little things that happen that just highlight the day.”