The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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A portrait of Chancellor Joan Gabel.
Senate Council holds final meeting of semester, recaps recent events
By Anna Kuntz, Senior Staff Writer • May 14, 2024
Column | A thank you to student journalists
By Betul Tuncer, Editor-in-Chief • April 27, 2024

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A portrait of Chancellor Joan Gabel.
Senate Council holds final meeting of semester, recaps recent events
By Anna Kuntz, Senior Staff Writer • May 14, 2024
Column | A thank you to student journalists
By Betul Tuncer, Editor-in-Chief • April 27, 2024

Pitt baseball faces pitching and batting woes against UVA

Redshirt+sophomore+pitcher+Phil+Fox+%2828%29+pitches+during+Sunday%E2%80%99s+game+against+UVA+at+Cost+Field.
Nate Yonamine | Assistant Visual Editor
Redshirt sophomore pitcher Phil Fox (28) pitches during Sunday’s game against UVA at Cost Field.

A struggling Pitt baseball program entered a weekend series against No. 14 Virginia, looking for a series win over a team with national championship aspirations.

Last season, the Panthers picked up a surprise 2-1 series win over the then No. 7 Cavaliers — who ultimately qualified for the College World Series — in Charlottesville. The win provided a blueprint for another upset this past weekend.

But the Cavaliers would put those hopes to bed with an 18-2 mercy rule victory on Friday. Saturday and Sunday did not fare much better as the Panthers fell 10-4 and 8-2, respectively.

A big culprit for these two losses was poor pitching play, as the Panthers gave up a combined 29 hits during the first two contests, and their pitching rotation had a combined 27 ERA. 

During Sunday’s contest, the Panthers went with sophomore left-handed pitcher Ryan Reed as they typically do. Reed’s different pitching style initially gave the Cavaliers some trouble as they struggled early offensively. 

Reed’s solid performance, both as of late and during Sunday afternoon’s matchup, caught the attention of head coach Mike Bell, who commented on the sophomore pitcher’s development and performance.

“I thought Reed was really good for us,” Bell said. “He’s continuing to develop and be a real piece for us.”

In addition to Reed, Bell praised fellow lefty pitcher Matt Porter, who provided solid play out of the bullpen during Saturday’s game. 

“I thought Porter was really good for us on Saturday,” Bell said. “Those are quality left-handers.”

Porter and Reed could become an interesting rotation for the Panthers and provide a much-needed change from the bullpen.

Despite Reed’s impressive play on Sunday, the Panthers surrendered three crucial errors, which led to three unearned runs for the Cavaliers in the third and fourth innings that would put them ahead for good. 

Bell stated that these mistakes were unacceptable, and failed to back up the impressive afternoon Reed had.

“We did not help [Reed] from a defensive standpoint,” Bell said. “And it showed on the line score.”
Bell noted that those errors sunk any chances the Panthers had of pulling off a victory, especially against a widely talented and well-coached Virginia team. 

“They went out and did the little things right,” Bell said. “We need to make sure that we’re doing our part right from a pitching standpoint.” 

On the flip side, the Panthers struggled against the Cavaliers’ talented pitching rotation and fielding play. Junior catcher Jayden Melendez led off the scoring for the Panthers with a home run in the bottom of the second, his team-leading sixth homer of the season. Despite this, the Panthers’ offense went silent the rest of the game, notching only a sac fly from senior infielder Tyler Bischke in the bottom of the ninth.

The Cavaliers also notched four double plays, which killed any chances of a Pitt comeback. Junior Virginia shortstop Griff O’Ferrall, who is a top prospect in the upcoming MLB draft, made several of those inning-killing plays. 

“He’s a piece of what makes them great,” Bell said about O’Ferrall. “He’s a great representation of what their program is about.” 

Sunday’s contest provided a microcosm of how the series went for Pitt offensively. While there are some very talented players both offensively and defensively, the Panthers just could not muster the juice to bridge the talent gap between them and Virginia. Bell agreed, stating that inconsistent performance from the Panther’s role players had a big effect on the team’s slide as of late.

“We just gotta improve down the line,” Bell said. “We’re looking for more consistency.” 

As Coach Bell and the Panthers attempt to navigate the difficult waters of the ACC, they will need some of those talented pieces to elevate their play and get them playing winning baseball again.