PITTSBURGH — Pitt battled back in the end, but the Panthers couldn’t overcome several key miscues in a 7-5 loss to Youngstown State in Pitt’s 2020 home opener at Charles L. Cost field on Wednesday.
Closer Chase Smith ran out of steam in the top of the ninth, allowing two runs after Pitt had tied the game in the eighth. Smith (1-1) worked three innings at the back of a taxed Pitt bullpen that was forced to cover the game’s final eight innings.
Pitt (10-2) fell into a 5-0 hole, with most of the Youngstown State runs taking advantage of lax Pitt defense and pitching.
Panthers started out shakily, with starter Chris Cappas lasting just one inning. His single frame took 33 pitches and though he had four strikeouts, he also allowed three walks, a stolen base and allowed a run to score on a wild pitch.
Senior Chris Gomez took over for three innings, but when junior lefty Grant Powell entered in the fifth, more of the same trouble cropped up for the Panthers.
Powell allowed a walk, an infield single, a double steal, a wild pitch on a strikeout, another walk, another double steal, and an RBI groundout for two more runs.
In the sixth, it was more of the same. After a leadoff single, Powell gave up a walk, couldn’t get an out on a sacrifice bunt attempt between him and catcher Riley Wash, gave up an RBI single and then another run scored on another bunt before he was lifted for Grant Lester.
Pitt finally got the bats going in the sixth after being stifled by Penguins starter Jon Snyder. Sky Duff, David Yanni and Ron Washington walked in advance of Kyle Hess, who doubled to right to score two runs. Samuel Frontino drove in another on a sacrifice fly.
In the eighth, Yanni scored on a wild pitch and Frontino came home on a Youngstown State balk to tie the game.
Up next, the Panthers will go back on the road for a three-game series at No. 8 Miami with games Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. Sophomore right-hander Billy Corcoran is in line to start Friday’s opener.