PITTSBURGH — Pitt had plenty of chances to push runs across the plate against Virginia Tech in their first ACC home game at Charles L. Cost field on Friday afternoon, but the Panthers came up short with men on base, stranding 10 runners in a 5-1 loss to the Hokies
Virginia Tech (11-8 overall, 7-6 ACC) arrived in Pittsburgh having just dropped out of the top-25 after losing three of four games played last week. Senior left-handed pitcher Peyton Alford delivered a strong start for the reeling Hokies when they needed it most. He earned his first win of the season by dealing six innings of one-run baseball, scattering four hits while striking out eight.
Alford challenged Pitt hitters with a powerful fastball. What little success the Panthers found against him came in the form of walks and singles. The Pitt offense was unable to string together enough timely offense when opportunities arose.
The Panthers (12-6 overall, 8-5 ACC) had 12 at bats with runners on base in Friday’s contest and came up with just one hit in those at-bats. Three of those stranded runners came in the fourth inning, when Pitt left the bases loaded.
Senior second baseman David Yanni drew a one-out walk to begin the rally. Junior third baseman Sam Frontino and first baseman Bryce Hulett followed with two walks. Then junior catcher Riley Wash came through for his team’s lone hit with runners in scoring position, a run scoring single.
But that would be all the damage Pitt could inflict. After Wash, sophomore shortstop Brock Franks and junior designated hitter Sky Duff both struck out swinging.
Junior outfielder Nico Popa was one of the few bright spots for Pitt offensively. He went 3-5 with three singles, extending his current hitting streak to six games.
Virginia Tech on the other hand, made junior Pitt starter Mitch Myers uncomfortable right from the jump. His final line was solid — six full innings, just two earned runs allowed on six hits and six strikeouts as well — but Myers took the loss nonetheless.
After a month’s worth of starts in warmer climates, Myers was uncharacteristically weak with his command under chilly conditions at Cost Field. He surrendered a season-high four walks over his six innings of work.
The two runs he allowed in the third inning proved to be all Virginia Tech would need to secure the win. The Hokies led off with a walk from freshman center fielder Jack Hurley. Hurley advanced to third on a double from fellow freshman Tanner Schobel and was driven home by yet another freshman, Gavin Cross.
Cross led the way offensively for the Hokies, going 3-3 with four RBIs.
Matt Gilbertson will be on the mound on Saturday for game two of this three-game set between Virginia Tech and Pitt. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. and will air on ACC Network Extra.