Baseball: Pitt’s offensive struggles continue, drops sixth-straight game


Offense again proved to be a problem for the Panthers baseball team, which only managed two hits in a loss at Kent State, as Pitt was unable to capitalize on starter Casey Roche’s longest outing of the season.

The Golden Flashes (23-12, 9-3 Mid-American) did not allow the Panthers a hit after the first inning as both hits coming in the top half of the first frame, providing Pitt starter Roche with no run support in the loss at Olga Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium.

The 4-1 loss marks another tough outing for the Panthers because of their inability to score runs when they need them. Of Pitt’s nine losses in April, seven include games where Pitt’s offense could not put more than two runs on the board, including last night’s game against Kent State. With the loss, Pitt’s road record has now dwindled to 6-13 this season, and the team is now mired in a six-game losing skid.

Through the first two innings of play, the Panthers’ bats seemed alive and well, forcing Kent State pitcher Michael Clark to throw 46 pitches in his fourth start of the season.  

Senior Stephen Vranka led off the game with a double to left field, giving the Panthers some life. After a sacrifice bunt by outfielder Boo Vazquez and a walk to starting pitcher Roche, Vranka eventually crossed home plate for the first run of the game on a fielder’s choice out at second, which caught Roche attempting to steal from first base.

But Clark, who picked up the win of the night, would not give up another hit during his five-inning performance, improving his record to 2-1. 

Pitt struck out 10 times and left nine runners stranded on base. They did not advance a runner to third base after the fifth inning.    

Vazquez spoke about the team’s recent struggles at the plate.

“We have to be consistent in having quality at-bats,” Vazquez said. “If we hit balls hard, good things will happen.” 

Wednesday’s loss is the Panthers’ ninth in their last 10 games, dropping them to a 16-20 overall record on the season.

Pitt head coach Joe Jordano provided his thoughts on the Panthers’ current slide.

“Obviously we are in a difficult stretch right now, and we are working to get through it,” Jordano said. “We have to get our confidence back and play through it.”

Roche provided the sole bright spot for Pitt in the game, tossing a solid four innings in a losing effort, giving up two runs (one earned), three hits and one walk on 57 pitches.  

Roche’s two runs came in the fourth inning after Zarley Zalewski reached base on an error by Pitt shortstop Dylan Wolsonovich. Kent State first baseman Cody Koch promptly smacked an RBI double down the left field line, bringing Zalewski home on the play. Jeff Revesz added an RBI single of his own. Kent State tacked on two more runs before the game’s end.

There’s no telling when the Panthers will get back into the winning column, but they have a golden opportunity to do so at home this weekend against 20th-ranked Clemson in a three-game series with ACC implications.

Senior pitcher Matt Wotherspoon, much like the rest of the Panthers, is looking forward to coming back to Pittsburgh. 

“I think we’re comfortable at home,” said Wotherspoon. “If we play hard, we will put ourselves in a good position to win the series.”

The Panthers and Tigers will face off in the first game of a three-game set Friday at 6:00 pm at Charles L. Cost Field in the Petersen Sports Complex.