Pitt faced a deficit of 7-0 in the third inning and worked as a team to comeback and tie the game. A late home run by Georgia Tech ended their hopes of coming through on that comeback and they lost 8-7 at Charles L. Cost Field Thursday night.
The Panthers (27-24 overall, 13-14 ACC) have comeback in consecutive games after being down, as they scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth against Penn State on Tuesday night at PNC Park, but still face the same result as they have suffered back-to-back loses. The loss is also the fourth in the last five games for the Panthers, who are in desperate need of wins if they want to make the NCAA Tournament.
Panthers head coach Mike Bell said that he loved the fight his team showed after going down big early against the Yellow Jackets (31-21 overall, 13-15 ACC).
“This team is very resilient,” Bell said. “They love playing for each other and no matter if we were down 10-0 or 0-0, they were gonna fight for nine innings and it’s a tribute to who they are, what they believe in and what this program is about.”
Pitt senior ace, right-handed pitcher Matt Gilbertson, looked to get out of the first inning with relative ease after surrendering just one hit and two quick outs. Unfortunately, for him, Georgia Tech started a rally, beginning with a double from sophomore outfielder Tres Gonzalez that scored sophomore catcher Kevin Parada.
Gonzalez advanced to third base on a wild pitch and then sophomore infielder Tim Borden II hit a ball that sliced away from Pitt senior infielder Jeffrey Wehler, bringing Gonzalez home for a 2-0 score.
Sophomore outfielder Stephen Reid singled to put runners on second base and first base. Sophomore infielder Drew Compton put his mark on the rally as he crushed a ball over the plate that went over the right field wall for a three-run home run, making it a 5-0 game.
The Yellow Jackets weren’t done in the first inning, as senior outfielder Colin Hall smacked a ball to right field for a triple. Hall then stole home when Gilbertson threw a pitch over junior catcher Tatem Levins a few pitches later, capping the run at 6-0.
Georgia Tech added to their lead in the third inning, as Borden hit a ball over the centerfield wall for a solo home run, making it a 7-0 game.
Pitt got on the score board in the third inning, as sophomore outfielder CJ Funk tripled over Reid’s head and then junior infielder Brock Franks did the same, but getting a double and scoring Funk. Sophomore outfielder Dom Popa and Wehler grounded out and Levins flew out to end the inning with just the one run.
The Panthers loaded the bases in the fourth inning, looking to cut into the Yellow Jackets’ lead. Senior outfielder Ron Washington Jr. reached first base on a hit by pitch, senior infielder Bryce Hulett made it to first base on a fielder’s choice and then Funk walked, but Franks ended the inning with a fly out to left field.
Pitt finally got a break when Popa reached first base on an errant throw by Georgia Tech second baseman, sophomore Chandler Simpson. Simpson threw an easy ground out way out of reach of first baseman, sophomore Andrew Jenkins, who then missed the tag on Popa.
The Panthers continued to put pressure on Yellow Jackets starting pitcher, redshirt senior John Medich. They waited patiently and allowed Medich to unravel, as he continued to lose control with his pitch count rising.
Wehler and Levins walked after Popa to load the bases. Junior infielder Sky Duff then hit a ball that went right past Simpson’s glove and drove home Popa and Wehler, cutting the lead to 7-3.
B5 | Pitt 3, Georgia Tech 7@Sky_Duff3 extends his reached base streak to 6⃣5⃣ games & cuts into our deficit!
— Pitt Baseball (@Pitt_BASE) May 19, 2022
Washington then walked to load the bases again. Medich threw a ball in the dirt that went past the Parada. Levins quickly broke for home plate and dived head-first safely before the tag, making it a 7-4 game.
B5 | Pitt 4, Georgia Tech 7@TatemLevins hustles & slides head first for the run!
— Pitt Baseball (@Pitt_BASE) May 19, 2022
Junior designated hitter Jack Anderson walked to load the bases and then Funk hit a slicing ball to the opposite field for a double. This scored Washington and Duff to cut the lead to just one at 7-6.
The Yellow Jackets finally took Medich out after this for redshirt junior left-handed relief pitcher Sam Crawford. Crawford managed to strike out Franks and get Wehler to ground into an out at second base to end the inning.
Gilbertson ran into some trouble in the bottom of the sixth inning, as he hit Compton with a pitch and then gave up a single to Hall with just one out. He managed to get out of the jam unscathed, as sophomore infielder Jadyn Jackson and Simpson flew out.
Gilbertson finished his night afterwards in what is his worst statistical game of the season, giving up a season-high seven runs on nine hits, two home runs, two wild pitches and one hit by pitch.
“Realistically, he should’ve been out of the [first] inning with two runs on the board,” Bell said about Gilbertson’s disastrous first inning. “We had a couple defensive miscues that don’t show up in the error column. They could’ve helped them get him out of the inning. But it’s also a tribute to them [Georgia Tech]. They’re a very good offensive ball club and they did a good job of putting the ball in play, found some holes and hustled some things out.”
Panthers redshirt sophomore right-handed relief pitcher Brady Devereux loaded the bases with just one out in the seventh inning after giving up singles to Parada and Gonzalez and hitting Borden with a pitch. He dueled with Reid who fouled off many pitches, but made him hit into a double play to end the top half of the inning.
M7 | Pitt 6, Georgia Tech 7
Yellow Jackets had the bases loaded, but @bradydev08 produces a 6️⃣-4️⃣-3️⃣ double play to end that threat!
— Pitt Baseball (@Pitt_BASE) May 20, 2022
Pitt got two singles in the bottom of the seventh inning from Funk and Franks, but Popa struck out and Wehler again grounded out to second base to end the inning.
The Panthers completed their comeback in the bottom of the eighth inning, when Levins hit the first pitch he saw over the right field wall, tying the game at 7-7 with a team-high 15th home run of the season.
The last of 7⃣ unanswered runs is a 🚀 from @TatemLevins!
— Pitt Baseball (@Pitt_BASE) May 20, 2022
Duff singled after Levins’ home run, but got caught in a rundown after a wild pitch and the Panthers lost their momentum in the inning and headed to the ninth.
In relief for Devereux, senior right-handed relief pitcher Baron Stuart came on to shut things down and give Pitt a chance to win it in the bottom half of the ninth inning. Stuart struggled against Penn State on Tuesday, as he pitched two-thirds of an inning and allowed two runs.
Stuart did good to get the first two batters out in the inning and looked to finish the ninth inning easily, but then left a breaking ball over the middle of the plate, which Jenkins crushed over the scoreboard for a solo home run and a 8-7 Georgia Tech lead.
— Georgia Tech Baseball (@GTBaseball) May 20, 2022
Anderson started the bottom of the ninth inning with a walk, giving hope for another comeback by the Panthers. Duff came up and got an unfavorable second strike call, that would’ve made it a 3-1 count instead of 2-2. He then struck out on the next pitch and Franks flew out for two quick outs.
The last chance for Pitt saw first-year catcher Luke Lambert come in as a pinch-hitter for Popa. Lambert hit a big double against Penn State on Tuesday in the bottom of the eighth that kick started a five-run comeback to take the lead.
Lambert didn’t replicate that against the Yellow Jackets, but did get a questionable strike call on a strike three looking, ending the game and sending the Pitt coaching staff into a fury.
Bell says that he told his team that they can’t let tonight get to them and that they have to keep moving on towards tomorrow night’s game. Pitt takes on Georgia Tech again Friday night at 6 p.m. in the second match of the series.
“Same thing we’ve told them from day one,” Bell said. “It’s a short-term memory. It’s the greatest thing about baseball. We get to come back and play tomorrow. Again these guys love playing for each other and I’m looking forward to the energy and passion they bring tomorrow and the opportunity to compete. That’s what we look forward too.”