Today’s ACC Tournament game against Georgia Tech was a must win for Pitt if they wanted to have any shot at advancing to the weekend’s semifinals and the Panthers gutted out a 2-1 victory.
Pitt (28-25) mustered a little bit of offense, scoring a pair of runs, but the star of the game was unquestionably pitcher Matt Pidich. Pidich (6-2) has been excellent for the Panthers all year long and he dominated again today. The team’s ace allowed only a single earned run in seven innings of work while striking out eight batters and giving up only one walk. R.J. Freure then came in from the bullpen to get the save by pitching two innings and giving up only one hit.
Head coach Joe Jordano talked about his team’s effort after the game.
“I thought we played a really good baseball game today,” said head coach Joe Jordano. “Georgia Tech’s top of the lineup is one of the most dangerous in the league. We knew that Matt [Pidich] would have to throw one of his best games in order to give us an opportunity.
The Panthers didn’t have a ton of offense themselves. On the day, Pitt had a total of only four hits but a few were timely and helped push runs across. The Panthers got a pair of two-out hits in the 7th inning to drive in runs and give the team a 2-0 lead. Georgia Tech would get one in the bottom half of the 7th but that would end the scoring.
The game could be considered a small upset to some as the Yellow Jackets had the better record and the higher seed. But Pitt won the regular season series against Georgia Tech and, with today’s win, have now beaten them three out of four times this year. Despite the records and the seeds, Pitt, even if only slightly, has looked like the better team this season.
Next up for Pitt is a monster challenge as they’ll face top ten North Carolina. The Tar Heels swept the Panthers earlier this year in a series that wasn’t real competitive.
The real problem for the Panthers this season is that the staff has not been highly dependable beyond Pidich. They have gotten good performances from other guys but not with any great deal of consistency. With Pidich out of the mix now, we’ll likely see Dan Hammer on the mound as he has been the team’s No. 2 starter most of the year. Hammer turned in some good performances earlier in the year, including a three-hit, one-run outing in seven innings of work against Miami last month. But he also struggled down the stretch allowing 12 runs in only 15 1⁄3 innings of work in this last three starts.
Hammer didn’t start against North Carolina in the regular season. He had pretty good success as a reliever, though, allowing only one hit in 2 1⁄3 scoreless innings. We’ll see if he can keep that up over a longer stretch of time in a high-pressure situation.
The Tar Heels pounded Pitt for a total of 32 runs in their three games this year and, aside from a 4-0 win in Game 2 that Pidich started, mostly did what they wanted offensively with an astonishing 14 hits in each of the other two games. If Pitt is going to win, they’ll almost certainly need more offense than they had today.
You can watch Pitt-North Carolina on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. either on WatchESPN or RSN.