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Pitt Clinches 2nd Ever ACC Baseball Tournament Bid with 4-1 Win over Boston College

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PITTSBURGH — In more ways than the glaringly obvious, Friday night marked a return to normal. Not only did Pitt baseball play on their home field for the first time in almost three weeks, after concluding a COVID-19-induced shutdown of team activities, but they got back in the win column as well and did so thanks to what have become routine performances from Panther veterans. 

Fresh off of a stale, 8-2 loss at rival West Virginia on Wednesday, Pitt was eager to get back onto the field and get back to being the team that won seven of eight prior to pausing.

“[The shutdown] gave us a chance to slow down, take a breath,” Junior starting pitcher Myers said. “It also might have made us a little rusty. But for not having played in two weeks, I thought we came out here and did a really good job of competing.”

Myers, Pitt’s definitive starting ace, tossed 7 ⅓ dazzling innings, allowed just one run and earned the win. Nico Popa, a fifth-year senior outfielder, delivered like he has all season with a crucial, rally-starting double in the sixth inning. Senior closer Jordan McCrum, the man head coach Mike Bell turns to whenever he needs to close a game with certainty, did what he does best and finished off the victory on the mound. 

Pitt (21-12 overall, 15-10 ACC) leaned on its proven stars in a 4-1 win over Boston College (19-24 overall, 8-20 ACC) on Friday evening in Pittsburgh. In addition to solidifying their spot atop the ACC Coastal Division, the Panthers’ win earned them an ACC Tournament bid for just the second time since joining the league in 2014. Pitt joins Louisville and Notre Dame as the only teams to have clinched their spots so far. 

“It was neat to see our guys finally understand that they get to pack their bags for Charlotte,” Bell said postgame.

The Panthers pulled away from the Eagles late, but the game did not come without its stressors. 

It was a pitcher’s duel through six innings. Myers and Boston College’s Emmet Sheehan — who both Bell and Myers praised as one of the best pitchers in the conference — went toe-to-toe, trading each efficient, scoreless inning for another efficient, scoreless inning. 

“[Sheehan’s] a very special talent,” Bell said. “He’s gotten better every game. … He’s a tough one to match up with. Mitch has done a great job this year of, whether it’s Abbot from Virginia or [Messick] from [FSU], knowing that when he gets the ball on Friday night, he’s not just playing the game of baseball, he’s playing the scoreboard too. He’s gotta match what they do.”

Against Sheehan, Myers didn’t just match, but outdid his Eagles counterpart. 

In the sixth, Sheehan’s brilliant start began to unravel. He opened the frame by hitting sophomore third baseman Sky Duff with a pitch, then Popa doubled off of the left-field wall to drive him home and tie the game at one. 

 

A sacrifice groundout from junior left fielder Kyle Hess moved Popa along to third and a double — snuck down the left field line — from junior designated hitter Ron Washington Jr. allowed Popa to score easily and gave Pitt a 2-1 lead that they would not relinquish. 

The Panthers added two more runs — one on a double from Duff and another on a home run from senior second baseman David Yanni — but didn’t need them. Myers and McCrum posted zeroes on the scoreboard from the seventh inning on. 

McCrum threw 1 ⅔ innings, allowed one hit and walked three. He loaded the bases twice in separate innings, but recovered to keep Boston College off of the board. Myers pitched into the eighth inning, surrendered just one run on four hits and three walks.

Pitt and Boston College will conclude their three-game series on Saturday with a double-header beginning at 1 p.m. Junior righty Matt Gilbertson will start on the mound in game one and in game two Billy Corcoran will make his second start since returning from an injury. Both games will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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