Friday – Pitt 12, Miami 6
Have we mentioned this team’s resilience? After back-to-back home series losses, a 5-3 deficit can feel like far more than two runs. Especially with ever-steady Friday starter Mitch Myers showing some cracks in the armor, Pitt found themselves in a hole in the sixth inning and the bottom of the order coming to the plate. Trailing by two, Pitt’s back half of the lineup showed tenacity at the plate working deep counts and chipping away at the Hurricane bullpen. After loading the bases, nine-hole hitter Jordan Anderson cut the lead in half with an infield single and turned the lineup over to leadoff hitter Sky Duff. Duff has had an up and down year so far finding himself out of the lineup on occasion and bouncing around between manning the hot corner and serving as the team’s designated hitter. Nonetheless, Duff delivered his biggest hit of the season as he drove a 2-2 fastball over the right-centerfield fence and secured a lead the Miami Hurricanes would never relinquish.
Friday’s game was Pitt’s best team offensive game of the season with ten players recording hits, with five of them being doubles and a pair of home runs. Equally as impressive, six hitters recorded multi-hit games. While Mitch Myers was not his usual self, the Panther bullpen pieced the final 3.1 innings together with Chase Smith finishing the sixth inning and sophomore right hander C.J. McKennitt bridging the gap to closer Jordan McCrum. McKennitt had struggled in his last two outings allowing two runs to Notre Dame and three runs to Virginia Tech. As Pitt continues to advance through the second half of the season, relievers like McKennitt are going to be called on more and more in high-leverage situations.
Saturday – Pitt 6, Miami 4
Despite plating a first inning run, Miami was playing catch up all day after the Panthers plated three runs in the second and another third and fourth innings. Pitt chased Miami’s freshman starter Victor Mederos after two innings where he scattered wild pitches and struggled to find the zone. Starting with back-to-back walks, Pitt scored their three second inning runs with great team offense featuring some timely singles and a sacrifice bunt. After Miami tied things up in the third, Nico Popa showed he is not just good for clutch home runs. After leading the inning off with a hit by pitch, Popa stole second and third off of Preseason All-American Catcher Adrian Del Castillo. With Popa on third, Washington Jr. sharply lined a fastball to right field and Pitt regained a lead they would never relinquish. Controversy ensued in the top half of the sixth inning as a video review lead to two key outs. With a runner on first and no outs, Alex Toral hit a sharp ground ball in part of a hit-and-run. With the runner stealing, David Yanni’s throw to second was not in time and Franks could not make the throw to first to try to salvage an out. However, after heading to the monitor, the umpires deemed both Miami platers out as Christian Del Castillo slid into Franks and was called out for runner interference. Adding insult to injury for the Canes, Raymond Gil hit his third home run of the weekend the very next at-bat. What could have been a three-run home run was only a solo shot and Miami would not score the rest of the game. The Canes did have another great opportunity though. After pitching two innings on Friday, Jordan McCrum was visibly off in his save attempt on Saturday. After getting through the eighth inning, McCrum loaded the bases in the ninth without recording an out and the Panther two-run lead was in jeopardy. However, poor Miami baserunning lead to a quick double play or the Panthers and five pitches later a strikeout sealed the series victory for the Panthers, six to four.
Sunday – Pitt 12, Miami 5
After Pitt failed to plate any runs in the first inning despite having bases loaded and no outs, the momentum seemed to favor the Hurricanes as they jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the second inning. With two outs in the fourth inning the Panthers would tie the game as Sky Duff drove in Ramon Padilla and Jordan Anderson with a single to right and ever-reliable Nico Popa knotted things up with a two-run home run. The Panthers were certainly not done there as they would plate another seven runs in the bottom of the seventh. After being scratched from his start on Friday due to illness, Miami’s electric freshman right hander Alejandro Rosario lost command in his first relief appearance of the season. While he stayed in the strike zone, Rosario left far too many pitches over the heart of the plate and the Pitt hitters took advantage. Once again, Nico Popa delivered with an RBI single to give the Panthers their first lead of the afternoon. After loading the bases a few batters later, Brice Hulett busted the game open with a grand slam to right-center field and the rout was on.
With Jordan McCrum unavailable after back-to-back appearances, Corey Sawyer put together his best relief appearance of the season bridging the gap to Chase Smith who closed the 12-5 game out.
Sunday’s win makes Pitt the second team in history to sweep both Miami and Florida State in the season while also notching a program record 12th ACC win.
Brock Franks continues to dazzle in the field. The sure-handed shortstop has been simply marvelous since taking over full-time duties a couple weeks into the season.
Every overturned challenge call went the Panthers way this weekend. Not something Pitt can rely on going forward, but it’s rare to be successful with multiple video reviews.
A five game week is on deck for the Panthers. Pitt’s bullpen will be called upon to perform in all kinds of places this week. Bullpen success will likely dictate how successful of a postseason run this Panther team can make.
Tue: 3 PM v Lipscomb (ACCNX)
Wed: 1 PM v Lipscomb (ACCNX)
Fri: 6 PM v North Carolina (ACCNX)
Sat: 3 PM v North Carolina (ACCNX)
Sun: 1 PM v North Carolina (ACCNX)