Baseball: Panthers drop second game in two days

Baseball: Panthers drop second game in two days

While facing an opponent it beat by double digits the first time they met, the Pitt baseball team experienced a starkly different result in the rematch.

The Panthers traveled to Ohio for a nonconference matchup against the Youngstown State Penguins, a team they defeated 12-1 their last time facing eachother on March 18. This time, Pitt struggled to overcome a poor outing from its starting pitcher and couldn’t score late, losing the game 7-6 and tying the series.

Pitt head coach Joe Jordano summed up the end result in one sentence. 

“To say the least, this was a disappointing ball game,” Jordano said.  

The defeat is the squad’s second straight, having lost another high-scoring contest in nonconference play yesterday against West Virginia, 6-4.

Early on, Pitt picked up where it left off, taking the game’s first lead in the top of the first inning when, with cleanup hitter Casey Roche at the plate, a double steal occurred, allowing fellow senior Stephen Vranka to safely reach home from third base. 

The Panthers then added another tally an inning later when shortstop Matt Johnson singled home infielder Jordan Frabasilio.  

That advantage held until the bottom of the frame, when the Penguins battered pitcher Renan Rodriguez. The redshirt sophomore allowed three runs in the inning.

Rodriguez left the game after walking a batter to start the bottom of the fourth, having given up two more runs  — one in the third and one in the fourth. This brought his total to five runs allowed, all of which were earned.

But Rodriguez said that he “felt fresh for [his] appearance” Wednesday.

“The last two days have been rough, but it’s going to happen in a long season,” he said. 

Luke Curtis entered in relief of Rodriguez and slowed the Penguins’ progress, but he couldn’t stop the wave of runners from crossing home, allowing two runs — including the game-deciding run — in three innings of work. Curtis received the loss. 

Pitt would regain the lead in the top of the third inning with four runs of its own, one of which came off a fielder’s choice by Johnson, his second of a game-high two RBIs. But the Panthers wouldn’t score again.

Youngstown, on the other hand, kept crossing the plate with a run an inning until it tied the game back up in the fifth. The hosts tacked on the go-ahead run in the seventh, which gave the Panthers little time to chase the Penguins. 

To Johnson, Pitt lacked energy. 

“We started the game fine,” Johnson said. “But as we know, you have to play all nine innings.”

The team’s bats, so active and successful throughout the previous meeting, fell quiet the rest of the game, as they scored no runs or hits in the remaining six innings with just five men reaching base.  

“We did not do much of anything today,” Jordano said. 

The team’s next action comes at 3 p.m. Friday at Cost Field when it opens a three-game series against ACC opponent No. 1 University of Virginia.

Before facing the Cavaliers, Johnson said the team will have to accept the loss and move forward.

“It’s one of those games you don’t want to dwell on with such a big weekend coming up, but [a game you] have to learn from and not let it happen again,” he said.