The Pitt baseball team took part in the Central Florida Invitational at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, Florida, this weekend and went 3-1, improving to 6-4 on the year. During the Panthers’ second trip to the Sunshine State this season, they logged wins over Hofstra, St. Peter’s and Butler but suffered a close loss to Central Michigan before all was said and done.
Pitt kicked off the event with a 1-0 win over Hofstra on Friday, thanks to a dynamic collaborative effort from Christian Camacho, Billy Corcoran, Brady Devereux and Chase Smith on the mound. The four pitchers gave up just five hits and had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 14-to-3 in the game. They were aided by an RBI double from David Yanni in the eighth inning that brought home Cole MacLaren for what proved to be the decisive run of the game.
On Saturday, Pitt faced St. Peter’s and Butler, dealing the Peacocks a 17-7 shellacking and narrowly defeating the Bulldogs 4-3 in a walk-off win that took 10 innings to decide. In the first of those two matchups, the Panthers batters had their way with St. Peter’s pitcher Edwin Feliciano, who gave up seven hits, five walks and eight earned runs in 1.2 innings. None of his relievers could stop the bleeding, as each gave up at least two earned runs, the most notable of which came on a home run by Kris Soto — the first of his Pitt career.
The evening game with Butler was a more dramatic affair marked by solid pitching performances from Pitt’s Dan Hammer and Butler’s Sam Hubbe. Both gave up just four hits on the day, and Hubbe escaped his five-inning outing without giving up a run. However, Hammer was the more dominant of the two, as he struck out 11 Bulldogs in six innings despite giving up one unearned run in the first inning. The game was deadlocked at three runs apiece after nine innings, but Ron Washington Jr. hit an RBI single in the 10th that scored Connor Perry for the walk-off win.
Pitt faced Central Michigan on Sunday in its final game at the Central Florida Invitational, and despite the Panthers clawing their way back to within one run, they were never able to dig themselves out of an early four-run hole. The Chippewas were able to rack up those runs in part because of three errors by Pitt’s fielders in the opening two frames of the game.
”You have to give Central Michigan credit for coming out early and taking advantage of our mistakes,” Pitt head coach Mike Bell said after the loss to the Chippewas. “We really took a step forward as a team this weekend and we will continue to grow as we step into conference play this weekend.”
With the Central Florida Invitational finished, Pitt will head home to face Youngstown State at Ambrose Urbanic Field in its home opener on Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET. The Panthers will then travel to Raleigh, North Carolina, for a three-game series with NC State to start ACC play.