PITTSBURGH — The inconsistent start to the 2022 season continued for the Pitt baseball program on Wednesday. Oneday after dominating Bucknell in their home opener 21-6, the Panthers fell 5-2 to Youngstown State. It was a completely opposite game from the night before, with them stranding 13 runners on base.
Pitt (9-8) left runners in scoring position in every inning except for the fifth and the sixth, though it was not an offensive performance for the record books. Pitt took advantage of seven walks and three hit batters to flood the basepaths, but couldn’t find the hitting when necessary to bring men home. Youngstown State (6-10), meanwhile took advantage of its big opportunity.
“5-2 ballgame, I feel a lot of people look at that and think it’s a close ballgame,” said head coach Mike Bell. “I felt like we had some MIA opportunities from a lacking of putting the ball in play with runners in scoring position.”
Pitt loaded the bases with a Bryce Hulett double, a hit batter and a walk with two outs in the eighth, but Kyle Hess flied out to end the threat. The Panthers had runners on second and third with no outs in the ninth, but managed just one run on a Ron Washington Jr. fielder’s choice.
“We’ve going to keep working harder at getting better pitches to hit,” said Hullet. “Just little things, discipline at the plate, things like that.”
The big chance for the Penguins came in the seventh against junior reliever Ryan Miller (0-1). Scott Lucero doubled with one out, and after a strikeout and an intentional walk, Brae O’Shaughnessy hit a three-run home run to break the game open and put Youngstown State up for good.
Pitt got out of an early jam in the top of the third as Youngstown State loaded the bases on starter Tyler Kennedy with two walks and a hit batter. With two outs, Bell brought in Baron Stuart who got out of the bases loaded jam without surrendering a run.
Kennedy worked 2 2/3 innings, walked three and struck out two in his second start and longest out of the season. It was also his first scoreless outing of the season. He gave up two runs in 1 1/3 innings against Canisius on Feb. 20 and three runs in 1 2/3 against High Point on March 9.
“I liked what I saw from some of the young guys,” Bell said. “Tyler Kennedy fought through the first two innings, but he put up zeros on the scoreboard and that was important. … Baron Stuart helped get us out of a jam in the third inning then held things in check, which was good to see.”
Pitt scored first, with a home run by Hullet to lead off the second inning. He had a nice day offensively going 2 for 3 with a home run, a double and a walk.
Youngstown State tied things up in the top of the fifth with a solo home run by Lucero. In total, six of the game’s seven runs were from a home run. Lucero finished 2 for 4 with a home run and a double, although he did strikeout looking twice.
Brandon Mikos (2-0) picked up the win, but it was really a team effort as Youngstown State used ten different pitchers in the game.
Pitt will play a three-game weekend series at Virginia Tech (10-5) starting on Friday at 2 p.m. before returning home to face Kent State (5-6) next Wednesday at 3 p.m.