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Pitt Baseball’s 7th Inning Collapse Stretches Skid to 7

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It’s been a common refrain for Pitt baseball head coach Mike Bell, after wins and losses of all kinds. 

“Once you think you have this game figured out, it’ll humble you quickly.”

The words and tone may change slightly, depending upon the state of his team at the time, but the sentiment remains the same. The natural laws of baseball demand losses with wins, struggle with success, disappointment with joy. The game will always reveal who you truly are. 

Just two, short weeks ago, the Panthers were in the middle of perhaps their best season in program history. But after sinking into a six game losing streak, capped by Saturday’s fall-from-ahead defeat to the ACC’s worst team, they’ve been humbled. Pitt was named a candidate for NCAA Regional Tournament hosting distinctions on May 14, but the ensuing skid threatens to knock them from the postseason field completely. 

Pitt (22-19 overall, 16-17 ACC) fell 10-3 to Wake Forest (20-27 overall, 10-22 ACC), who despite adding three wins this weekend, finished 2021 with the ACC’s worst record, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on Saturday afternoon. The Panthers showed great fight early on, but a promising first five innings were undone in almost an instant. This loss secures their eighth-straight year losing record in conference play. 

A solid start from right-hander Stephen Hansen, who turned in 5 ⅓ innings on the hill and allowed just one run, gave the Pitt bench a much-needed shot of energy on Saturday. He was aided in part by a spectacular leaping catch by center fielder Jordan Anderson, whose grab robbed Wake Forest left fielder Mike Ludowig of a home run in the second inning.

Offensively, the Panthers gave Wake Forest a taste of their own medicine, striking quickly and powerfully in the top of the fourth with back-to-back home runs off the bats of Kyle Hess and Nico Popa. 

But in the sixth, things took a quick turn south. 

The Demon Deacons had entered the bottom of the sixth with a 3-2 lead off the strength of homers from Bobby Seymour and Shane Muntz. Pitt closer Jordan McCrum entered in the seventh having surrendered just seven total runs over 27 ⅓ innings to date, but left having doubled that total. 

McCrum oversaw a barrage of hits and homers that sucked the air out of a promising attempt to break the recent losing streak. Wake Forest’s seven runs came across by way of seven hits, five hits — two of them home runs — and an intentional walk. 

Muntz’s second bomb of the game was good for three runs and broke the game wide open, doubling the home team’s lead from three to six. The final nail in the coffin was a two-run shot from designated hitter Cole McNamee, who also pitched a scoreless ninth to close the game and series. 

The Pitt offense recorded just one hit over the final two innings. The lone hit Pitt struck back with was a single from Sky Duff in the eighth and it was quickly neutralized by a double play.  

The Panthers have already clinched their spot in next week’s ACC Tournament and are guaranteed two postseason games, but that is all. As the No. 10 seed they will join No. 3 NC State and No. 6 North Carolina in Pool C and play each opponent once in round-robin play. The tournament is slated to begin Tuesday, but game times have not yet been announced. 

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Krackerjack Kid
Krackerjack Kid
3 months ago

What a disappointment this season has deteriorated into.

From the start of the season they rode the arms of Myers and Gilbertson. If they were on, there as a decent chance of a win. Without them, the pitching was suspect.

A few weeks ago the bullpen imploded and the bats went cold.

Bell still has a lot of recruiting to do, but luckily the only senior that will truly be missed next year is Popa.

H2P.

 
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