PITTSBURGH - The University of Pittsburgh baseball team dropped game one of their series against NC State, 7-4, Friday night at Charles L. Cost Field in the opening game of the three-game series.
"It was pretty interesting from our perspective," said head coach Joe Jordano. "We did get out to a slow start, especially in that first inning. We have to make those plays when you're playing a good team, especially an offensive team like NC State, when you're in a position where you have to make those plays and you can't give them those types of opportunities. They got the big two-out hit, scored a couple of more runs in the first and made it 3-0. Then, in the third, with one out or two outs, a three run homer and then you're down 6-0. So, it was basically a couple of pitches that was the difference in the first few innings. Then Josh [Mitchell] settled down and did a good job and gave us a great outing. He threw a 108 pitches and 8.0 innings of work. That's a heck of a job."
Pitt (22-25, 8-17 ACC) out-hit NC State (29-21, 12-13 ACC) 11-9, but couldn't overcome a fast start from the Wolfpack. Josh Mitchell was strong on the mound, going 8.0 innings, allowing nine hits, seven runs, four earned and striking out eight. At the plate, Frank Maldonado and Manny Pazos each recorded multi-hit games and drove in a run.
The Wolfpack got off to a hot start, plating three unearned runs in the first. Two errors from the Panthers' defense prolonged the inning, allowing NC State to grab a 3-0 lead. Mitchell was able to escape further damage, with a strikeout and caught stealing with two men aboard.
Mitchell made quick work of the Wolfpack in the second inning, setting down the side in order. Pazos recorded the first hit of the game for the Panthers in the bottom half and advanced to second on a throwing error by the catcher. Pitt would leave him stranded at second to end the inning.
NC State added to their lead in the top of the third after a pair of singles set the stage for a three-run blast off the bat of Will Wilson. Mitchell again settled down following the long ball, striking out the next two batters to end the inning.
Pitt threatened again in the bottom half of the inning, beginning with a two-out double off the bat of Jacob Wright. Alex Amos then drew a two out walk, but the runners were left on first and second.
NC State added another run in the fourth after Andy Cosgrove led off the inning with a solo home run to left field before the following three batters were set down in order. Following the solo shot from Cosgrove, neither team would bring across a run until the eighth inning.
The Panthers finally got on the board in the bottom half of the eighth, scoring three runs on four hits. After recording the first two outs of the inning, NC State's pitcher, Johnny Piedmonte, was taken out of the game as the Wolfpack went to their bullpen. The moved sparked a rally for Pitt, as the next five batters would reach base safely.
Amos got things started with his second walk off the game. Caleb Parry followed with a single before a Maldonado double drove home Amos and advanced Parry to third. Pazos kept the line moving with a single to left field, brining across the second run for the Panthers. PJ DeMeo drove in the third run of the inning on an infield hit. Pitt's rally would end, leaving two runners in scoring position.
Yaya Chentouf came in to pitch the ninth in relief of Mitchell and set the Wolfpack down in order. Remaining in striking distance, the Panthers would make one last attempt at a late inning rally. Chentouf began the bottom of the ninth with a walk, which was followed by a single off the bat of Nico Popa, setting up a first and second, no out situation for the top of the order. Wright drove a ball to shallow left that took a diving effort from the NC State left fielder to rob Wright of base hit. After another pitching change for the Wolfpack, Amos drew his third walk of the game to load the bases and bring the tying run to plate. Parry drove in Chentouf from third with a sac fly to right field, before Maldonado grounded out to first to end Pitt's late inning comeback attempt in game one.
The game was Pitt's second Negro League Celebration game, as former Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch received the Community Champion award. The Panthers paid tribute to the Negro Leagues history in the Western Pennsylvania area.
"It's something that's really special," said Jordano. Not only to Kirk Bruce, whose father, Clarence, played for the Homestead Grays and the Pittsburgh Crawfords. Of course Sean Gibson to honor his grandfather, Josh Gibson, maybe one of the best baseball players ever. Going back to my years up in Erie, I got to befriend the Sam "The Jet" Jethro who was a rookie of the year for the Tigers I believe it was in 1950 or 1952 it was right after Jackie Robinson came and broke the color barrier. So, I had an opportunity to sit down and talk with him a couple of times. It's pretty special. It's part of Pittsburgh history. I think it's appropriate to acknowledge that and honor that legacy at our ball park."
The Panthers continue the series with NC State tomorrow, as Pitt will celebrate senior day at 6 p.m. from Charles L. Cost Field. Seniors P.J. DeMeo, Josh Falk, Dan Furman, Sam Mersing, Manny Pazos and Jacob Wright as well as graduate student Adam Cornwell and senior manager Jacob May.
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