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Pitt baseball splits opening weekend with Canisius

The Pitt baseball team started its 2022 season by splitting its opening four-game series with Canisius at the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Florida. The Golden Griffins took the opening and closing games of the series, winning them 11-3 and 15-7, while the Panthers swept the Saturday doubleheader, winning those games 12-2 and 4-0.

Diving into the weekend’s two losses, the bullpen proved to be Pitt’s Achilles’ heel, as the team’s relievers gave up 17 runs in those two games. In the season opener, Panthers ace Matt Gilbertson was unable to close the door with two outs in back-to-back innings, and he ultimately exited after allowing four runs in four innings. However, the real damage was done after his departure, as Canisius plated seven runs over the next five innings.

Similarly, Michigan transfer Ben Dragani, who started the fourth game of the series for Pitt, exited with the Panthers still in the game, as they only trailed by two. However, Canisius tacked on another 10 runs against the Panthers bullpen and won by eight runs.

On the flip side, in both of Pitt’s Saturday games, the Panthers were nearly flawless on the mound, allowing only two runs over 16 innings. And the brightest spot was clearly Penn State transfer Logan Evans.

Evans, who pitched exclusively out of the bullpen in his two seasons at Penn State, allowed only four hits over seven innings while filling the third starter role for Pitt. In addition, his strikeout and walk numbers were both low, as he pitched to contact and relied on the Panthers defense to make plays behind him. That trait should benefit him in the No. 3 role moving forward if he can keep it up.

At the plate, the top half of the order delivered all weekend, with the top six doing almost all of the damage for the Panthers. Sky Duff, Ron Washington Jr. and Kyle Hess all picked up where they left off last season, but the two brightest spots were both new faces.

Jack Anderson, a transfer from State College of Florida, was an on-base machine, walking five times in three games in addition to going 3-for-5 on the weekend. Anderson did not start in the season opener, but he finished the weekend in the cleanup spot after some early success. The other transfer lighting it up at the plate was former La Salle backstop Tatem Levins. Levins, who was a second-team All-Atlantic 10 honoree a year ago, hit .333 on the weekend with one long ball and a double.

So while Pitt’s opening weekend will likely be seen as a slight disappointment, as the Panthers were only able to split the series, there was also reason for optimism.

Pitt will stay on the road next week, with four games in the Music City College Classic in Nashville, Tennessee. In the first two, the Panthers will face Bradley. And in the second pair, Pitt will take on Lipscomb.