Pitt's baseball team had high hopes heading into this past weekend. Holding a one-game lead in the Big East conference, the Panthers controlled their own destiny with three games remaining in the season against Louisville - widely considered the better team.
The Cardinals proved that with a sweep against Pitt, winning all three games.
Pitt showed their ability and had some bright spots in keeping a couple of games close. They lost the first game 5-2, but had plenty of opportunities, stranding 16 runners. The second game, a 12-4 loss, wasn't close, but Pitt again had opportunities on Sunday to win. Down 7-4, they had the bases loaded in the ninth inning but couldn't push any runners across.
For maybe the first time all season, the Panthers' starting pitching failed to deliver. The ace of the staff, Ethan Mildren, was roughed up for five runs in seven innings in the opener. Matt Wotherspoon was far worse in the second game, giving up ten earned in only 4 2/3 innings in the second game. And on Saturday in the finale, Rhys Aldenhoven lost his first game of the year with four earned runs in five innings.
The bottom line is that the Cardinals pretty much showed they're significantly better than Pitt. That's not to say they'd be unbeatable in another series, but it's hard to argue that they're not the better team at this point.
It's also not a time to bury the starters. Those three guys have been flat out dominant all season and while they struggled this weekend Louisville is a top ten team. The Panthers weren't completely dominated, but they were soundly defeated. As a result, Pitt will take on St. John's as the third seed in the Big East Tournament on Wednesday.
So what's it mean for Pitt's NCAA Tournament hopes? The sweep doesn't help, obviously, and with a loss against Kent State last week, that's four straight games Pitt has lost. That game against Kent State really was a missed opportunity for another quality win. And if any stock is placed on how a team finishes, an early exit in the Big East Tournament could make things very interesting for the team's NCAA Tourney hopes.
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