What had been Pitt baseball only strength through the first two games of a weekend series vs. Notre Dame failed to show up in the finale. The visiting Notre Dame Fighting Irish were relentless with their bats and took the decisive game three in dominating fashion.
After lights-out pitching had been their saving grace in the first two contests, Notre Dame (13-5 overall, 12-5 ACC) decimated the fresh bullpen of Pitt (13-10 overall, 9-9 ACC) in an 11-5, series-clinching win on Monday afternoon at Charles L. Cost Field.
In keeping with a pattern set over the first two games of the series, the team to score first won. The Irish jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. Infielder Jack Brannigan homered in the second for the game’s first score and veteran outfielder Brooks Coetzee drove in another in the third with a sacrifice groundout.
Pitt struck back with a triple from junior designated hitter Kyle Hess in the proceeding half inning to cut Notre Dame’s lead in half, but things unravelled quickly for the Panthers there on out. In just two innings their deficit went from one run to nine.
It began in the fourth with a solo home run off the bat of Prazjner. Two hits and a pitching change later, freshman catcher Danny Neri scored on a passed ball that freshman catcher Jackson Phinney missed. The very next at bat, Spencer Myers snuck a double by Pitt third baseman Sky Duff. The ball rolled into the corner and allowed two more runs to score, extending Notre Dame’s lead to four.
But the Irish weren’t done scoring. In the fifth inning they scored five more times. Two came home on a bases-loaded single from senior first baseman Niko Kavadas and the other three scored when designated hitter Carter Putz launched a three-run homer.
Pitt had more than enough chances to cut into that nine-run lead over the remainder of the game, but was unable to put together the kind of multi-run scoring hits necessary.
In the fourth, Nico Popa struck out to end the inning, stranding runners on first and second. Pitt left two more on base in the fifth after David Yanni and Bryce Hulett — the four and five hitters in the lineup — couldn’t come up with a hit. Finally, and most painfully, the Panthers loaded the bases twice in the seventh inning, but came away with just one run.
One of the few bright spots for Pitt was the play of junior centerfielder Jordan Anderson. Making his second consecutive start after an extended stint in a reserve role, Anderson collected a pair of hits and an RBI.
Duff also looked comfortable back in the field. He had spent the last month as a designated hitter before manning third base and going 2-5 with an RBI at the plate on Monday.
The Panthers will be back in action tomorrow afternoon for the baseball version of the Backyard Brawl. West Virginia will make the 75-mile trek north to Pittsburgh for a 3 p.m. first pitch on Tuesday against Pitt. The game will air on ACC Network Extra.