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First inning miscues are the key as Pitt baseball drops mid-week game to Kent State

Baseball Batter

Pitt’s baseball team had been on a roll heading into this week. The Panthers had won five out of their last six games, including their last two ACC series’ against Virginia and Boston College.

That run, however, was halted on Tuesday in a disappointing mid-week performance as the Panthers dropped a game to Kent State, 4-1.

Kent State, for the record, isn’t a terrible team. At 18-10, technically, their record is slightly better than the Panthers (17-12). And their No. 63 RPI is far ahead of the Panthers’ (93), too. But getting the game at home and where every game is crucial to finish over .500 on the season, it was a disappointing result for sure.

The frustrating thing was that the game was decided in the first inning and it was Pitt miscues that contributed to the loss. Starter Derek West walked the leadoff batter and, in a desperate attempt to keep him in check, a failed pickoff attempt led to the ball being thrown away. West then looked like he would get out of the jam after two strikeouts but then disaster struck.

Kent State hit a fly ball out to left field on a ball that should have been caught. But it dropped in for a hit, leading to a triple and the next batter crushed a home run to give Kent State a 3-0 lead.

The play was ruled a hit instead of an error but I watched the play numerous times and left fielder Connor Perry took a poor route to the ball that sort of hung up in the wind. He initially headed to his right before realizing the ball wasn’t going as deep as it appeared and it dropped in. By the time he cut back in, it was too late. That it was ruled a hit and not an error seemed like a lapse in judgment by the scorekeeper as a good defensive play there results in the third out gets Pitt out of the inning scoreless.

Pitt’s bats were silent practically all day, which is a shame because aside from that disastrous inning, Kent State scored only one run and, at that point, it would have been anyone’s game. But it’s a crucial reminder that one bad inning is often all it takes to lose a game.

Next up for the Panthers is an important series with Georgia Tech.

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