Midweek games in college baseball serve a particular purpose for those who play them. Traditionally featuring schools within driving distance that aren’t in the same conference, these one or two-game arrangements spread throughout the calendar allow players to stay sharp and work on different aspects of their play during the gaps between the extended, arguably more important conference series on weekends.
In April, these matchups flummoxed Pitt, which had a losing streak against “midweek” opposition — including Akron, Kent State, West Virginia, and Youngstown State — coming into Wednesday’s competition. But the Panthers broke last month’s trend last night with a 6-1 victory over Ohio University in Athens.
The result couldn’t have come at a more important time.
While this contest had no bearing on the Panthers’ progress towards their goal of making the ACC tournament, it helped in intangible ways. They have found confidence and momentum heading into the those that will, against Maryland and Notre Dame.
“We have to really come up big these next two weekends,” freshman Caleb Parry said. “I think we really got our mindset right here, got to build some momentum.
Pitching led the team to victory. Starter Luke Curtis shutout the Bobcats and gave up five hits in as many innings before exiting. He was credited with the win. Four relievers would make subsequent appearances, splitting the remaining time evenly between them. Jon Danielczyk allowed the only Ohio offense: one run on two hits in bottom of the seventh.
The exceptional performance by the staff from start to finish stuck out to Pitt head coach Joe Jordano.
“Luke [Curtis] really set the tone on the mound and each of our arms from [Sam] Mersing, Danielczyk, T.J. [Zeuch] and Hobie [Harris] did quality work,” he said in a statement.
Parry, who entered the game as a pinch runner and then played third base, credited the stout pitching with allowing the team to win by a comfortable margin.
“If our pitchers go and throw strikes and do what they need to do, then that allows us as hitters to really support them and charge. Start up a rally, and get some runs,” Parry said.
The visitors scored their runs in bunches, two in the fourth and three in the sixth, before adding a final tally in the seventh.
This weekend, Pitt (22-24 overall, 11-13 ACC) hosts Maryland (30-19, 12-14), which sits right above it in the race for one of the last 10 conference tournament spots. The first of three games begins 6 p.m. Friday night at Cost Field.