PITTSBURGH — The Panthers never made it easy but the Pitt Panthers (26-19. 12-11) baseball team took he series from the Duke Blue Devils (20-26, 9-15) after splitting the doubleheader on Sunday. Pitt won 3-2 in game one of Sunday’s doubleheader, and then lost 15-5 in game two to split the day.
By winning, the Panthers clinched a series win, their fifth ACC series win in their last 6 conference series. It started out well for Pitt in game one, as they were led by starter Billy Corcoran who gave them six strong innings and only allowed one earned run throughout those innings of work. All 11 of Corcoran’s starts have gone six innings or longer this season.
The Pitt bats quieted down from yesterday after they put 14 runs on 15 hits, but it was enough to push the Panthers ahead. Sky Duff put the Panthers on the board with an RBI single to bring home Bryce Hulett after two walks from Blue Devils starter Cooper Stinson to start the inning. Later in that inning, Brock Franks would bring home Jack Anderson on a sacrifice fly to extend the Panthers’ lead to 2-0.
In the fourth inning, the Blue Devils would get their first scoring opportunity. Graham Pauley and R.J. Schreck would reach base. Then, Luke Storm would line a single into right field but Pauley would get nailed at home by C.J. Funk to keep them off the scoreboard.
The Panthers would add to their lead in the fourth inning after Stinson loaded the bases. After a wild pitch by reliever John Natoli, C.J. Funk came home to score to extend the lead to 3-0. However, Pitt would strand the Jordan Anderson and Franks to end the inning.
Throughout it all, Corcoran rarely found himself in many tenuous spots, however, Duke started to tag him a bit in the fifth inning after a Trevor Johnson lined a single for a hit. Johnson would swipe a bag and then advance to third on a passed ball. Ben LaSpaluto would ground an infield single to cut the lead to 3-1. His day would be over after six strong innings, and he would give way to reliever Baron Stuart.
Stuart got into two tenuous jams in the 8th and 9th innings. At one point in the 8th inning, Stuart walked home a run with the bases loaded to cut the lead to 3-2. However, with the bases loaded and with a 3-2 to Chris Crabtree, Stuart would get the critical strikeout.
in the 9th inning, Duke would put runners on the corners with a chance to tie the game again. The three-hole hitter, R.J. Schreck, would fly out to center field to end the game as the Panthers won 3-2 by the skin of their teeth.
However, game two would be the opposite story for Duke. Usual Saturday starter Logan Evans went three innings and allowed six runs as the Panthers went deep into their bullpen. It all kicked off in the first inning as Schreck doubled off the wall to bring home Alex Mooney. Still, Pitt would respond as Jeffrey Wehler hit his second home run of the season to tie it at 1.
In the second and third innings, Duke would open up the lead after a go-ahead double off of Mooney’s bat that brought home Alex Stone. Luke Storm singled to bring home two runs, and then shortly thereafter Trevor Johnson took Evans to end his day.
The Blue Devils then opened up the game with a 6-run 4th inning where the Panthers utilized three different pitchers. It started with Ben Dragani, who allowed two runs on a fielder’s choice and sacrifice fly. However, from there, Duke would bat around and score four more runs. Wil Hoyle’s grand slam off C.J. McKennitt opened the game up to give the Blue Devils a 12-1 lead. In the top of the 5th, Storm would take Quin Konuzewski deep to extend the lead even more.
Pitt would respond with three runs for the rest of the game. Sky Duff singled to bring home Tarem Levins for the 2nd run of the game. Duff extended his on-base streak to 59 games. Tommy Tavarez and Dom Popa each registered a double to account for the other 3 RBIs.
It would end after a tumultuous game that ended up with a dominant 15-5 Blue Devils win. They will face East Carolina on Tuesday.
The Panthers will be feeling good after the series win, but they have to get ready to the rubber match of the Backyard Brawl as they head to Morgantown on Tuesday.