Pitt baseball was dropped from two major national polls this week, following a demoralizing sweep at the hands of NC State. This is the first time the Panthers have not appeared in either D1Baseball’s or Baseball America’s top-25 poll since March 15, ending a streak of nine consecutive weeks in both polls.
Pitt has also fallen dramatically in RPI — to No. 41, according to Baseball America — as well.
But their struggles have not been confined to just last weekend’s drubbing by the Wolfpack. Pitt has not looked like the same team since returning from a two-week long, COVID-induced shutdown of team activities.
Not only did the team miss a key opportunity to improve their resume after a series vs. a then-top-10 Louisville squad was cancelled, but they have turned in a pedestrian 2-5 record since returning. Both wins came against ACC cellar-dweller Boston College.
Pitt entered national top-25 rankings in mid-March following consecutive series wins over then ranked opponents Florida State and Georgia Tech. That was the first time it had been ranked in eight years. The Panthers achieved their highest ranking in program history at No. 14 (Baseball America) on March 23, after taking two of three on the road at Virginia.
The implications of their absence from the top-25 go beyond simple national recognition. The Panthers were one of 20 schools pegged as candidates for Regional Tournament hosting duties by the Division I Baseball Committee last Friday.
As Pitt struggles, other host candidates like Oregon, South Carolina, Louisiana Tech and Charlotte, have picked up steam heading into the final weeks of regular season play, putting the Panther’s odds of hosting as a one-seed in jeopardy. But Baseball America’s Teddy Cahill believes that there is still life in Pitt’s hosting hopes.
“There is, however, a chance that Pitt could host a regional as a No. 2 seed,” Cahill wrote in his most recent weekend recap. “That used to be a more common practice but hasn’t been used by the selection committee since 2010. … Pitt would give the committee a geographically advantageous host — Pittsburgh sits on the border of the Midwest and Northeast and the only other school on the shortlist in those areas is Notre Dame — and be a comfortable landing spot for a traveling one-seed, which the selection committee might need.”
Pitt has three games at Wake Forest plus the ACC Tournament remaining on their schedule. Its final regular season series vs. the Demon Deacons is scheduled to begin Thursday at 6 p.m.