Mike Bell is less than 100 games into his tenure as Pitt baseball’s head coach and already rewriting the program history books. Bell has turned his Panthers into a national story and for the first time since 2013, Pitt baseball is ranked in the Top 25 of two major national polls.
D1Baseball.com has the Panthers pegged at No. 18, one spot behind interconference foe Notre Dame and one ahead of perennial national power LSU, in this week’s rankings. Meanwhile, Baseball America has Pitt spotted at No. 19 and affirmed that the Panthers’ hot start is more than a fluke.
“Any thought that Pitt might be a flash in the pan in the ACC after its series sweep of Florida State should have gone by the wayside with its series win at Georgia Tech,” Baseball America staff wrote of Pitt. “As expected, Georgia Tech put up a bunch of runs, but Pitt withstood those body blows and fought back to win slugfests on Friday and Sunday.”
This is the first time Pitt has ever made an appearance in D1Baseball’s top-25 rankings and No. 19 is the highest the Panthers have been ranked by Baseball America in program history. They had previously achieved a high of No. 21 in May 2013.
After winning two of a three-game set against then-No. 7 Georgia Tech this weekend, the Panthers have now notched a pair of series wins over top-10 ACC opponents through the season’s first four weeks and are currently tied for first place in the ACC Coastal Division with North Carolina.
Pitt’s two wins over Indiana State in the first series of the year also continue to look better and better as the Sycamores rack up wins. ISU split four games with No. 13 Tennessee and won this past weekend’s series over then-No. 20 Florida Atlantic.
To add to their already impressive resume, the Panthers have played exclusively on the road. In an effort to duck the typically cold, early spring in Pittsburgh, Pitt’s first 16 contests were played south of the Mason-Dixon line. It begins with a two-week swing through Florida before continuing up through Georgia, North Carolina and finishing in Virginia.
The Panthers will try to keep their hot start rolling when they face a struggling UVA squad in three games this weekend. After that they will return home for the home opener at Charles L. Cost Field — a midweek matchup with Bucknell on March 24.