A weekend that started sweet ended sourly as the Panthers’ baseball team was swept by N.C. State in a weekend crucial to Pitt’s regional hosting chances.
On the heels of being announced as a finalist for regional hosting, Pitt dropped all three games at home to the Wolfpack. The series loss to N.C. State is the fourth series loss of the season. Despite the Panthers' success this season, the bullpen continued to be a big question mark, mostly the bullpen’s depth. This weekend, that depth was tested and they did not pass allowing ten runs in three games.
Game One, N.C. State 3 - Pitt 2:
Myers gave Pitt a chance to win game one allowing only two runs in six innings. Myers left the game with the Panthers and Pack knotted at two, but the tie only lasted four pitches. C.J. McKennitt, who has been playing a larger role in the Pitt bullpen lately, allowed a leadoff triple to Wolfpack first baseman Austin Murr. Murr immediately advanced ninety feet on a wild pitch and the N.C. State 3-2 lead lasted the rest of the game. Pitt did have a great chance to at least tie the game with runners in scoring position in the eighth and N.C. State closer Evan Justice struggling to find the zone. Justice, a high velocity left-hander, got David Yanni swinging with a full count to end the Panthers’ threat and give N.C. State a crucial game one victory.
Game Two, N.C. State 9 - Pitt 7:
A bad feeling overcame me as N.C. State plated a run in the first inning with Tyler McDonough scoring from second on a dropped third strike. The game was still incredibly early, but it was one of those plays that set a tone for the game. Pitt answered with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the first, but N.C. State would proceed to score in the second, third, and fourth innings. The dueling offenses traded punches early and freshman Jackson Phinney gave the Panthers a lead in the fifth with his first home run of the season. While Matt Gilbertson was not up to his regular standard, he exited the game with a 5-5 tie. The Pack scored four unanswered runs once Mike Bell went to his bullpen. Despite the bullpen’s struggles, Pitt had the winning run at the plate in the ninth with no outs in the form of centerfielder Jordan Anderson. With the bases juiced, the speedy Anderson grounded into a double play and neutralized Pitt’s threat. A strikeout of Skye Duff ended the game and secured the series for the Wolfpack.
Game Three, N.C. State 10, Pitt 3:
A crucial game to keep Pitt’s regional host dreams alive, Bell handed the ball to Billy Corcoran. Corcoran has missed most of the season with an arm injury but was getting back to his normal self in recent weeks. However, early on in this one, you could tell something was not right. Corcoran’s fastball did not have its normal life, sitting in the mid-eighties as he relied on his secondary pitches in high leverage counts. After allowing his fifth run with one out in the third inning, the trainer was called on and Corcoran’s day ended early with an unfortunate and untimely trip to the training room. Those five runs were more than enough for N.C. State, though they added insult to Corcoran’s injury with five more runs and a 10-3 victory. Ron Washington Jr. did hit his second home run of the weekend and David Yanni set the Pitt all-time walks record, but that was all the excitement for the Pitt offense.
A sweep certainly hurts Pitt’s chances of hosting a regional. This weekend most likely drops Pitt out of hosting duties, but they do have time to make up some ground with four games left in the regular season and the ACC Championship looming. The Panther bullpen has no choice but to get better and get better fast as every game is crucial in Pitt’s seeding in this year’s NCAA tournament.
Tues. 5/18: vs. Akron at 3 PM, ACC Network
Thurs. 5/20: @ Wake Forest at 6 PM, ACCNX
Fri. 5/21: @ Wake Forest at 3 PM, ACC Network
Sat. 5/22: @ Wake Forest at 1 PM, ACCNX