Pitt baseball opened what is supposed to be a promising 2021 campaign with a disappointing loss in the opening of the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Florida.
The Panthers (0-1) were shutout and scattered just five total hits in a 4-0 loss to Indiana State (1-0) on Friday afternoon. It marks the first loss for Pitt in a season opener since 2011.
Pitt head coach Mike Bell said before the first day of official practice in January that the Panthers’ difficult five-week, season-opening trip through the southern United States — during which they will play four series opponents ranked in the top-25 of at least one major preseason poll — wouldn’t “define” their season. But he cannot be happy with the early returns.
Junior right hander Mitch Meyers started on the mound for Pitt and was hit hard almost immediately. In the top of the first, redshirt junior shortstop Jordan Schaffer reached on a single, and scored the batter after when redshirt senior Max wright launched a two-run home run.
The three-hitter, redshirt junior first baseman Brain Fuentes reached base safely despite on a drop-third strike that got loose behind the backstop, advanced to second on a walk and scored when redshirt freshman second baseman Jose Urdaneta singled.
The score was 3-0 in favor of the Sycamores before Pitt even got a chance to pick up the bats.
But the Panthers showed little resistance at the plate nonetheless. They were unable to even establish a threat against Indiana State’s pitching. Junior outfielder Kyle Hess and redshirt senior shortstop David Yanni both contributed doubles, but that is about all the Panthers could manage. A Pitt runner advanced past second base just once over the entirety of the game. Redshirt junior designated hitter Ron Washington Jr. also chipped in offensively with a pair of singles.
Redshirt senior left-hander Geremy Guerrero started on the mound for Indiana State was not overpowering, but still outstanding. He surrendered only three hits and a walk while striking out six over 5 ⅓ innings of work. The right-handed redshirt sophomore Connor Felong locked down the final 3 ⅔ innings of the game and struck out five in the process.
Myers was solid after surrendering four earned runs in the first two innings of the game. He stuck through three more innings without giving up a run and ended the afternoon with nine strikeouts.
Redshirt junior Dylan Lester and senior Chris Gomez turned in strong appearances on the back end of the game. Lester and Gomez combined for four innings of shutout ball in relief of Myers.
PItt will look to bounce back from Friday’s disappointment on Saturday. Junior righty Matt Gilbertson, who went 2-1 with a 1.13 ERA during pandemic-shortened 2020, will start on the mound for Pitt against Indiana State’s redshirt junior right-hander Connor Cline.
First pitch from Port Charlotte is scheduled for 2 p.m.