For most of the 2021 season, when junior righty Mitch Myers started for Pitt, the game followed a familiar pattern.
Myers would spin an efficient, quality start on the mound, while the offense struggled to stay afloat. Myers leads Pitt starters in ERA, WHIP, opponent batting average and innings pitched. But he also leads the Panthers in losses with four.
But in Friday’s series opener vs. the Hurricanes, the roles reversed. In game one, it was the Panthers’ offense that bailed out Myers during one of his rougher outings of the year. No. 24 Pitt (15-10 overall, 10-9 ACC) hit a pair of crucial home runs in a 12-6 win over No. 18 Miami (17-9 overall, 10-8 ACC) at Charles L. Cost Field. Five Pitt runs in the bottom of the sixth proved fatal to the Hurricanes, who had won six in a row entering this weekend.
Myers started the game in vintage fashion, tossing three scoreless frames to open the game. But things began to unravel in the next three innings. He allowed one run in both the fourth and fifth.
Then, in the sixth, Hurricanes designated hitter Raymond Gil tagged a hanging breaking ball from Myers way over the left field fence for a three-run homer to give Miami a 5-3 lead. Myers got one more out before being removed in favor of junior righty Chase Smith.
Myers finished his day after 5 ⅔ innings in which surrendered five earned runs on seven hits and two walks while throwing 102 pitches.
But the Miami lead did not last long. Pitt quickly re-established control in the bottom half of the sixth. The Panthers loaded the bases on Miami reliever Daniel Federman after he hit junior first baseman Bryce Hulett and infielders Brock Franks and Matt Tarabek connected for back-to-back singles.
One batter later, junior centerfielder Jordan Anderson continued a recent five-game hot streak, during which he’s hit 6 for 15 (.400), with an RBI single. Bases still loaded, junior third baseman Sky Duff launched a grand slam just to the left of the scoreboard in left field to put Pitt back on top 8-5.
E6: Pitt 8, Miami 5
— Pitt Baseball (@Pitt_BASE) April 9, 2021
Duff has been on a tear since returning to play the field after an extended stint as a designated hitter. Over his last three games, Duff has gone 8 for 17 at the plate, with five RBIs, two doubles and a home run.
The Panthers added four more runs in the seventh and eighth innings, three of which came off of the bat of substitute catcher Ramon Padilla. Padilla, who entered in the top of the seventh for freshman starter Jackson Phinney, hit a two-run home run — the first of his Pitt career — in the seventh and singled home one more run in the eighth.
The Panther bullpen was excellent. Smith, junior CJ McKennitt and senior Jordan McCrum — delivered 3 ⅓ innings of relief, striking out two as a group and allowing just one run.
Pitt and Miami will continue their series Saturday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. and will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra.