PITTSBURGH - Despite a late push by the University of Pittsburgh offense, the Panthers fell to North Carolina State by a score of 8-6 Saturday evening in game two of the series.
Pitt scored four in the eighth to threaten late against the Wolfpack, but couldn't get over the hump in the ninth as Pitt surrendered the series to North Carolina with the loss in game two.
"Give our guys a lot of credit," said head coach Joe Jordano. "Obviously we didn't to be in the position that we were in, especially with Josh [Falk] on the mound, but as I told the team afterward, Josh has been incredible for us the entire year and he was just off a little bit and gave up some pitches, and NC State can hit. They put up that crooked number and that was the difference in the ballgame. We battled back, we showed a lot of heart, kept getting after it and obviously had a chance in the end."
NC State got after Pitt starter Josh Falk early, as the Wolfpack put up a run in the first and six in the second to jump out to an early lead. In the first, after a single and fielder's choice left a man on first for a double off the bat of Brad Debo to score the first run of the game. Falk would get out of the inning with a fly out and grounder to the shortstop to end the frame, as NC State took a 1-0 lead.
Pitt would answer in the bottom of the frame, as a single by Jacob Wright got things going for the Panthers' offense. Alex Amos would move Wright into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, before he stole third. Frank Maldonado would continue his hot streak as he sent a hard single pas the NC State first baseman to tie the game at 1-1.
The Wolfpack's big six-inning frame followed, as the visitors took a lead they would not surrender. A walk and a double took the lead back quickly for NC State, before some small ball put men in scoring position for four straight hits that would score four. Falk would get a strikeout for the second out of the inning, but allowed back-to-back singles before Jordano called upon the bullpen, bringing in Sam Mersing.
Mersing would strikeout the lone batter he faced to end the inning as the Wolfpack took a 7-1 lead.
Pitt got one back in the third as a two-out single by Amos gave way for a triple by Caleb Parry, which brought Amos around, chipping away at the NC State lead, 7-2.
A solo homer by Debo in the sixth moved things to 8-2 in favor of the visitors.
Pitt began its surge in the eighth, plating four runs off four hits in the frame. Back-to-back singles by Amos and Parry put a pair on for Maldonado, who reached on a fielder's choice, as Parry was called safe at second after an error by the NC State shortstop. A double into right center by Manny Pazos scored Amos and Parry, as the Panthers cut the NC State lead to 8-4.
NC State called on the bullpen, as P.J. DeMeo answered with an RBI groundout that scored Maldonado. A double by Nick Banman would score Pazos, as the Panthers trailed by just two. The inning would come to an end on a called third strike to Nico Popa, as the Wolfpack remained on top 8-6.
In the ninth, NC State closer Tim Naughton entered in search of his second save of the series. Wright would go down on strikes before Amos drew a walk but was called out at second after a fielder's choice by Parry. A line drive caught by the Wolfpack centerfielder off the bat of Maldonado ended the game, as NC State captured the 8-6 victory, securing the series.
With the loss, Pitt falls to 22-26 (8-18 ACC). Falk earned the loss, dropping to 3-7 on the year, having pitched just 1.2 innings, allowing seven earned runs off nine hits and two walks, fanning one. Offensively, Amos had a good outing, going 3-3 with two runs scored. Maldonado extended his hit-streak to 10 with a 1-4 performance, recording an RBI and run scored.
The Panthers celebrated senior day, as the team honored Adam Cornwell, P.J. DeMeo, Josh Falk, Dan Furman, Sam Mersing, Manny Pazos and Jacob Wright, in addition to senior manager Jake May.
The two teams will close out the series tomorrow, as first pitch in the series finale is set for 1 p.m. at Charles L. Cost Field.
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