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Pitt baseball hands No. 1 Virginia first loss in close series

Photo used with permission of the University of Pittsburgh athletics department -

There hasn't been much to cheer for so far in Pitt's baseball season. Entering this weekend, the Panthers were only 3-6 and had a daunting task in front of them in No. 1 Virginia.

Things had the look of a disaster for Pitt, but behind an incredible pitching performance from sophomore T.J. Zeuch, the Panthers stole the series opener in a 1-0 game. Zeuch struck out eight batters through eight scoreless innings, allowing only four hits.

The win was particularly impressive as the Panthers defeated Virginia ace Nathan Kirby. Kirby is 3-1 with an unreal 0.71 ERA and you might remember, he tossed a no-hitter against Pitt last season. Ron Sherman hit an RBI single to give the Panthers their lone run, which stood up.

Equally impressive was how the team looked in the second game of a doubleheader. Pitt got another solid pitching performance from Aaron Sandefur, who allowed only two runs in 6 1/3 innings, but ultimately feel 2-1 after again being unable to mount much offense.

The Panthers were soundly defeated in Game 3, 10-3, but for a team that's struggled so much, to hang with the No. 1 program in the nation in a three-game series was impressive. Last year, Pitt baseball pulled a similar trick knocking off a top-ranked Virginia team in a game and playing a close series - mostly behind good pitching.

As I wrote last week, the starting pitching has been a bright spot. But where Pitt continues to run into trouble is on the offensive end. Scoring a total of five runs in a series just makes things difficult to pick up wins and puts too much pressure on the pitchers. Obviously, this was against a really good staff, but the Panthers have no scored three or fewer runs in six of their 12 games - it's been a big problem all season.

Pitt will get Monday off before facing Niagara on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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