Pitt Baseball: While bats go silent, Panthers' pitching staff anchors strong effort in series against No. 1 Virginia

After winning Game 2, Pitt's baseball team lost their finale against Virginia on Sunday, dropping the series. But the Panthers also stole a game against the top-ranked Cavaliers and had a big reason for their respectable showing in the series:

Their pitching.

Pitt's offense utterly disappeared against the Cavaliers, scoring a meager two runs. The Panthers were no-hit and shut out twice. Heck, Pitt mustered a total of only six hits in the three games. In fact, the offensive 'star' for the team was first baseman Eric Hess playing in place of starter, Steven Shelinsky over the last two games - Hess was 3-6, including his big 3-3 game on Saturday.

Typically, that's reason for disaster and will almost guarantee a three-game sweep. But while Virginia's staff pitched well, the Panthers' did the same.

Pitt was no-hit by Nathan Kirby in that first game, but the Panthers' hurlers weren't bad. Rhys Aldenhoven allowed a total of four runs in 5 2/3 innings, but only one was earned due to some errors behind him. Relievers Jon Danielczyk and Hobie Harris pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings, giving up only two hits.

In Game 2, starter Joe Harvey was even better, giving up a single run and only two hits, while the bullpen (Hobie Harris) pitched two scoreless innings. Pitt lost the finale, but also got another outstanding effort - this time from Matt Wotherspoon. Wotherspoon has struggled some this year, but pitched one of his better games of the season, giving up only one run in seven strong innings. The bullpen faltered in the ninth, but overall, it was another strong outing by the staff.

Pitt only won one game, but if they had even a little more offense, they could have actually won the series. Holding Virginia to only eight runs was an incredible achievement. Only Duke's staff, who kept the Cavaliers to seven runs performed better. And really, when you consider that four of the eight runs Pitt allowed were unearned, the Panthers just may have offered the best pitching the Cavaliers faced all year.

Even winning only one of the three games, the team has reasons for optimism. Some of the players feel that way, too:

"It’s tough," Wotherspoon added. "I hate the term moral victory, but we’ve got to win one. You can’t get swept at home, but you can get out of it that we can play with any team in the country."

A feeling of accomplishment was contagious in the dugout after the game.

"There are a lot of positive things we did this weekend," Frabasilio said. "We played clean, we played hard, stuck it out against the No. 1 team. It would’ve been nice to get the series win, but we got one at least."

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and manager/editor of Cardiac Hill @AnsonWhaley

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