Baseball: Pitt drops three games to No. 20 Miami

By Jeremy Tepper/ Staff Writer

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Up-and-down play has become the theme of this year’s Pitt baseball team. 

During the weekend, it only experienced the latter, continuing to struggle away from home.

Coach Joe Jordano’s team faltered in a road series against the 20th-ranked Miami Hurricanes, losing all three games — 12-2, 1-0 and 7-2, respectively — and falling to 16-19 and 8-10 in the ACC.

It’s the second straight-away conference series Pitt exited empty-handed, recalling last month’s shutout at Virginia Tech. 

Miami 12, Pitt 2

Most of Pitt’s struggles in the opening game came with a slew of shortcomings on the mound.

No. 20 Miami prevailed 12-2 over the visitors. 

Jordano pulled starting pitcher Sam Mersing, who surrendered three runs on three hits and five walks, after two innings. Rhys Aldenhoven then tried to act as tourniquet, but mimicked Mersing’s play. 

Aldenhoven gave up three earned runs in as many innings, and like Mersing, struggled to not give up free passes, walking four. Two additional pitchers, Andrew Belfiglio and Adam Dian, took the mound for Pitt, giving up two and three earned runs, respectively. 

On offense, the struggle wasn’t as absolute, despite what the scoreline suggests. The Panthers collected eight hits, but they came too spread out between innings to get a rally going. In the sixth inning, they scored both of their runs by way of a Steven Shelinsky Jr. two-out double to left center field that scored Dylan Wolsonovich and Casey Roche. Hurricanes pitcher Chris Diaz struck out 10 and got the win to improve to 7-0.

Miami 1, Pitt 0

In contrast to the opener, Pitt had a real chance to win the second contest, taking it to an extra inning.

Pitt’s offense mustered only three hits in the 1-0 loss. Miami’s Andrew Suarez had no problem shutting down his opposition, surrendering those three hits and striking out nine — a performance he managed through nine innings and throwing 93 pitches.

For the majority of the game, Pitt’s pitching matched Miami’s. Joseph Harvey got the start, pitching six scoreless frames while allowing five hits and striking out three. Hobie Harris relieved Harvey with a likewise commendable performance until the 10th inning, when he allowed the walk-off run. With one out, Johnny Ruiz doubled into left field. To set up the force-out, Harris walked Dale Carey, who went three for four in the game. Tyler Palmer then grounded out to advance the runners to second and third. Finally, Willie Abreu singled, allowing Ruiz to score the game-winning run. Pitt shortstop Wolsonovich attempted to throw out Abreu at first base to end the inning, but Abreu slid in headfirst and was called safe on a close play 

Despite the loss, Jordano was proud of his team’s effort.

“We played hard tonight,” Jordano said in a press release. “Coming off a disappointing game on Friday, our guys came out and battled for 10 innings. To have the game end on a tough call is difficult to take, but once again we were right there in a position to win the ball game. We need to keep playing hard and good things will happen.”

Miami 7, Pitt 2 

Unable to mount a late comeback and avoid the sweep after a four-run eighth inning by the opposition, Pitt fell in the last game of its trip south. 

Bryan Radziewski started the game for Miami and received the victory. He struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings, allowing a lone earned run. The Hurricanes won 7-2. 

Pitt again faced an early deficit, going down 2-0 in the third off an Abreu sacrifice fly in the first and a Carey RBI single in the third. 

The Panthers fought back in the fifth, as Matt Johnson scored off a wild pitch after reaching base with a walk. But the Hurricanes matched that run an inning later, bringing the score to 3-1 after Carey scored off an errant attempt to get him out at third. Carey reached base that inning on a double, his eighth hit in the series.

In the seventh, Pitt again inched closer toward erasing the difference, as Stephen Vranka singled to score Johnson. But the Panthers slipped as Miami scored four unanswered runs, plating all four in the eighth. 

Matt Wotherspoon — the game’s losing pitcher — permitted three runs, one earned, on six hits in 6 1/3 innings. 

The Panthers will take the field again Tuesday, when they return home to face Youngstown State at 6 p.m.

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