Two hours and five minutes after the game’s original 7 pm start time, the ACC Tournament game between Pitt and NC State finally got kicked off. Unfortunately, the Panthers came up just short, losing 3-2.
Just a day shy of a full week’s rest, Matt Gilbertson toed the rubber to start the game foe the Panthers. Gilbertson’s fastball velocity had been slightly down over the past couple weeks and his effectiveness dipped at a similar clip.
Early on, Gilbertson was donning his normal upper 80s heater coupled with his slurvy breaking ball and it was enough for a scoreless top of the first rolling a double play to get out of a small jam.
In the bottom half, Sky Duff started things off with a single but Pitt followed with back-to-back quick outs. Duff swiped second and got into scoring position with Pitt’s top power threat, Ron Washington Jr., at the plate. Washington wasted little time, roping a fastball down the left field line for an RBI double and giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
Gilbertson’s second inning started off by design with two quick outs, but three ball counts were adding up and two batters later, the Wolfpack had runners on first and second following back-to-back full count walks.
J.T. Jarrett, the Wolfpack’s nine hitter, then roped a hanging breaking ball down the left field line and following a misplay by Kyle Hess, the Wolfpack took a 2-1 lead while Jarrett moved up to third.
The misplay by Hess would prove to be detrimental as Jarrett would score on a wild pitch just a few pitches later extending the lead to two runs.
Gilbertson’s second inning struggles were on the heels of some close calls on 3-2 counts, which he was clearly disappointed to not get from the home plate umpire.
After an rare error by Brock Franks and a hard hit single, the Wolfpack had runners on the corners for First Team All-ACC outfielder Jonny Butler. Wolfpack fans were making their presence known as Truist Field was getting loud and Pitt was in danger of letting things start slipping. Gilbertson, though, made quick work of Butler and got out of the inning without any more damage.
After a few quiet half innings, Pitt loaded the bases with one out for Ron Washington, Jr. Washington, Jr. got down to two strikes but found the barrel and sent a hard ground ball to the hot corner for a fielders choice RBI cutting the lead in half in the bottom of the third.
Due to the late start, some viewers might have fallen asleep after the third inning. If that was you and you’re here to see what you missed, you only missed two things: Reid Johnston and Matt Gilbertson.
Over the final six innings, both offenses combined for zero runs and two hits. It was a pitching clinic out on by both starters that extended all the way through the end of the game. Unfortunately for the Panthers, it was the Pack who had the early lead before the silence fell over both offenses and Pitt fell 3-2.
The loss knocks the Panthers out of the ACC tournament and they will return to Pittsburgh and await their NCAA Tournament fate.
The NCAA Tournament selection show will take place at noon on Monday on ESPN2.