CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – A five-run fourth inning from Virginia proved the difference maker in Saturday’s game two as the University of Pittsburgh baseball team fell to the 22nd-ranked Cavaliers 5-2 at Davenport Field in Charlottesville, Va.
The fourth inning was the deciding factor as a collision in shallow right center allowed Virginia to extend the inning, plating five runs, its only of the game.
“That was a tough game,” said head coach Joe Jordano. “We played much better today and had our chances and we kept battling to the final out. The difference in this game was a scary collision between Nico [Popa] and Alex [Amos] that led to the five-run inning. The most important thing is that they are both okay, although Alex needed to come out of the game. I though Josh [Mitchell] pitched well, as did Sam [Mersing] coming on in relief. Virginia is very good, we are going to be challenged tomorrow but we will be ready for it.”
Starter Josh Mitchell was stellar for the Panthers through the first three innings, retiring eight of the first 10 batters he faced, including three straight in the opening frame.
Pitt gained the lead in the fourth as the Panthers held their first advantage of the weekend over the Cavaliers. Nick Banman ripped a solo home run over the bleachers in right field, giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead and chasing the Virginia starter.
Mitchell got into a trouble in the fourth as the Cavaliers plated five runs to take a 5-1 lead. A leadoff walk was issued to Adam Haseley before a collision between Alex Amos and Nico Popa in shallow right allowed UVA to put two in scoring position with just one out. I single over the outstretched arm of Amos allowed Haseley to score as the home team tied it at 1-1.
Justin Novak would send a single up the middle to give the Cavaliers a 2-1 lead before a three-run homer off the bat of Caleb Knight cleared the bases and put Virginia up 5-1.
Things settled following the fourth, as both Virginia and Pitt’s pitchers didn’t allow a run until the ninth. Reliever Sam Mersing was solid for the Panthers, going 2.1 innings, allowing just one hit and no walks, fanning a pair.
The Panthers attempted a comeback in the ninth when Frank Maldonado drew a leadoff walk to get things going. A double to center off the bat of P.J. DeMeo would allow Maldonado to score, putting DeMeo in scoring position with one out. A fly out from Manny Pazos moved DeMeo to third, but Popa would ground out to end the game as Virginia claimed a 5-2 victory.
With the loss, Pitt falls to 14-14, 6-8 ACC. Mitchell drops to 1-3 on the year. The Panthers will look to avoid the sweep tomorrow afternoon in a 1 p.m. meeting with the Cavaliers as ace Josh Falk takes the bump.
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