PITTSBURGH – The University of Pittsburgh baseball team split Friday’s series-opening doubleheader with the University of Miami at Charles L. Cost Field, earning the program’s first-ever victory over the national powerhouse Hurricanes.
Pitt captured a dominant 10-3 win in the first game, falling in the second contest 1-0.
“Every day we’re trying to get better,” said head coach Joe Jordano. “We’ve been talking about that all year and trying to focus on taking good at bats, staying in our hitting zone and putting a good swing on it. We did that certainly in the first game.
“We felt very good putting Josh [Mitchell] out there and he just was getting some pitches up and just seemed to be not having a good feel. When we got the 5-1 lead I just felt like we needed to make as many moves as possible to put us in the best position to win. Sam [Mersing] did a great job. He’s been really rock solid for us, pounded the zone, got out of a couple of jams and did a super job for us. We really needed that.”
Following a scoreless first inning, Miami’s Romy Gonzalez kicked off the second stanza, doubling down the third base line. Christopher Barr advanced Gonzalez to third on a sacrifice bunt and Edgar Michelangeli finished the job by singling to left field, bringing Gonzalez home, giving Miami a 1-0 lead.
Barry Buchowkski followed the scoring play with another Hurricane single, and Joe Gomez juiced the bases after he was hit by a pitch. Pitt starter Josh Mitchell held off the Hurricanes by striking out Brandon Gali and forcing Randy Batista to ground out, leaving the bases loaded.
Frank Maldonado gave the Panthers a spark in the bottom of the second, doubling off the left outfield wall. Yaya Chentouf reached on an error, and both moved into scoring position on a double steal. P.J. DeMeo lined out to the Hurricanes’ shortstop, and Alex Amos loaded the bases by taking a pitch. Manny Pazos fouled out, but Nico Popa sent Maldonado, Chentouf and Amos home on a triple to right field, putting the Panthers in front, 3-1.
“That was the difference,” said Jordano. “We wanted to get opportunities offensively and we took some really good at bats with two outs and that’s what wins ballgames. That was a big win for us to start the series.”
Jacob Wright kept the momentum alive, walking and advancing to second on a wild pitch, before Caleb Parry singled to bring Wright and Popa home, extending Pitt’s lead to 5-1.
RJ Freure stepped in for Mitchell in the top of the fourth after Michelangeli singled and Buchowski was hit. Gomez walked to load the bases with no outs, and Gali reached on a fielder’s choice to send Michelangeli home, closing the gap to 5-2. Batista walked, loading the bases and bringing up Michael Burns. Sam Mersing replaced Freure and struck out the final two batters to close out the top of the inning, helping the Panthers escape with minimal damage.
Mersing retired the side in order in the fifth, allowing the Panthers to extend their lead in the bottom of the frame. DeMeo drew a two-out walk and Amos singled to put a pair on. Pazos sent DeMeo home and advanced Amos to second on a single to center field as Pitt claimed a 6-2 lead.
A throwing error by the short stop put Miami in scoring position with no outs in the top of the sixth before Mersing recorded a pair of strikeouts. A groundout to Amos got the Panthers out of a jam.
Wright walked to open the bottom of the sixth, and then Parry pushed him to third after singling and advancing to second on an error by the left fielder. Nick Banman singled through the right side to send Wright and Parry home, extending the Panthers’ lead to 8-2.
Chentouf continued his solid outing with a single to left, advancing Banman to second. Banman took third on a wild pitch, and Chentouf stole second to put two in scoring position. DeMeo scored Chentouf and Banman on a single up the middle to put two more runs on the board (10-2). Amos grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Miami was able to tack one run on in the third, but the Panthers’ defense held on to seal the deal with a 10-3 decision.
The win is the first ever in program history over the Hurricanes, as Pitt snapped a 12-game drought.
The second game saw quieter offensive performances as freshman Dan Hammer got his first ACC start of the year for the Panthers and was matched by Miami’s Jeb Bargfeldt.
Neither team could get anything going over the first four innings, until Michelangeli hit a solo shot for the Hurricanes to make it 1-0 in the top of the fifth.
Hammer pitched 5.2 innings before Chris Gomez took over and struck out Buchowski to end the half, leaving the bases loaded, keeping Pitt in the game.
“As we’ve said many times before, Dan [Hammer] is a part of our future,” added Jordano. “We’re very excited about what he brings to the table, he’s a competitor. He’s got a really great arm. He struggled a little bit with command today, but kept battling and, in this league, one mistake is all it takes and that was obviously the difference in the ballgame. Gomey came in and did a good job and Isaac [Mattson] gave us a chance.”
Pitt’s offense mustered just two hits on the evening, as the Hurricanes evened the series at 1-1.
The Panthers will wrap up the series tomorrow afternoon as first pitched has been moved to a 2 p.m. start time at Charles L. Cost Field.
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