As the weather begins to turn for the warmer in Pittsburgh, Pitt baseball’s schedule continues to heat up. The Panthers (7-3 overall, 4-2 ACC) face a tall task this weekend as they head to Atlanta, Georgia for three games against No. 7 Georgia Tech (8-3 overall, 5-1 ACC).
This three-game set will be one of this week’s best series match-ups not just in the ACC, but across all of college baseball.
It’s a crucial early-season showdown between the Coastal Division-leading Yellow Jackets — still fresh off of a 2-1 series win over then No. 4 Louisville — and second-place Pitt. The Panthers can break their tie with Virginia Tech and possibly overtake possession of the division’s top spot after this weekend’s marquee series
It’ll be strength on strength when Pitt brings one of the ACC’s best pitching staffs down south for a mid-March clash with Georgia Tech. Panther pitching was not as strong last weekend in a series loss vs. Duke as it was when they took three straight from Florida State the week before, but the Panthers will look to rebound with their regular Friday and Saturday starting pitchers lined up.
Juniors Mitch Meyers and Matt Gilbertson are expected to man the mound in games one and two, but for the third straight weekend sophomore Billy Cocoran is absent from the list of scheduled starters. Graduate student Steven Hansen has competently replaced Corcoran in two short, Sunday starts, but head coach Mike Bell has not yet penned in Hansen as the starting pitcher in this coming series finale. No starter had been named as of Thursday night.
Still, even with these setbacks, the Panthers staff has been outstanding through the young season. Their team era of 2.84 is good for second-best in the ACC.
Last weekend against Duke, the very rear of the Pitt bullpen helped salvage a come-from-behind victory in Sunday’s finale after consecutive losses. Redshirt junior Dylan Lester and senior Jordan McCrum delivered 5 ⅓ innings of combined, scoreless relief while waiting for the Panther bats to come alive late in the game.
𝗙𝗜𝗡𝗔𝗟 | Pitt 5, Duke 4
— Pitt Baseball (@Pitt_BASE) March 7, 2021
A two-run home run from junior left fielder Nico Poa in the top of the eighth inning gave Pitt a go-ahead lead which McCrum locked down in the ninth to secure the win over the Blue Devils.
The Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech boasts one of the country and conference’s best offensive lineups. The Yellow Jackets rank first in the conference in batting average, runs scored, total bases and slugging percentage.
Through 11 games this season they’ve hit 16 home runs, have scored less than six runs in a game just once and are currently outsourcing opponents by a total tally of 96-66. Five of the 10 players on Georgia Tech’s roster with 25 or more at bats are batting above .300.
They’re led by a pair of standout freshman. Infielder Drew Compton, who has played in each of the Jackets’ 11 games, is currently batting .447 with five home runs and 14 RBI’s from his spot as the fifth hitter for head coach Danny Hall. Catcher Kevin Prada leads the conference in batting average with a mark of .486.
Myers will start on the mound for Pitt in game one against junior lefty Brant Hurter. First pitch of the series is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday and will be broadcast on the ACC Network. Game two, which is slated to get underway at 6 p.m., will also air on the ACC Network, while Sunday’s 1 p.m. matinee will be shown on ACC Network Extra.