CHARLOTTE — Back-to-back hammering home runs from Ron Washington Jr. and Bryce Hulett sparked a rally in the sixth inning that kept the Panthers alive.
When the frame began, Pitt trailed by four runs. When it was over – after eight singles, two walks and two dingers – Pitt led by four runs.
The Panthers’ explosion of offense in the top of the sixth powered them to a 12-6 victory over No. 7 Georgia Tech on a cloudy Tuesday afternoon in the ACC Tournament at Truist Field.
Pitt – seeded 11th in the tournament – will face No. 2 Louisville on Wednesday. The winner will likely move onto Saturday’s semifinals.
Washington finished the day with four RBI in a 2-for-4 day at the plate. Jeffrey Wehler and Tatem Levins each had three hits apiece. Brock Franks drew two walks and scored two runs.
The Panthers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, getting RBIs from both Washington Jr. and Hulett.
All-ACC starter Matt Gilbertson was near perfect from the mound in the first two innings – allowing just one hit while striking out one batter – but got rattled a bit in the third inning. Beginning with Colin Hall’s leadoff double to left center, four Yellow Jackets would get on base in the inning, and three of them would score. Hall strolled into home untouched following a fielding error by Franks, and then Tres Gonzalez drove two more Yellow Jackets in with a single.
Georgia Tech added a fourth run in the fourth inning, thanks to a solo home run to left center from designated hitter Tim Borden. A fly out and a 6-4-3 double play got Gilbertson out of the inning, leaving two Tech runners on base. The Yellow Jackets got two more runs off Gilbertson in the fifth inning.
Gilbertson gave up four earned runs on nine hits in five innings of work. The Panthers ended the regular season by losing three straight games to Georgia Tech, and it looked like that streak might extend.
Then Pitt’s offense went back to work.
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) May 24, 2022
Following Washington’s two-run homer – his 14th of the year – and Hulett’s solo shot, Pitt had two runners on and Dom Poppa singled up the middle. As Georgia Tech’s centerfielder struggled to pick up the ball, CJ Funk scored, tying the game up. Two pitches later, Wehler singled to left field, scoring Popa and Franks.
Pitt wound up batting around the lineup in the sixth inning. In Duff’s second at-bat in the frame, he singled to the left to bring home Wehler. Then Washington Jr. came up again, also singling to the left, driving in Levins. In all, Pitt scored eight runs in the inning, forcing Georgia Tech to change pitchers twice.
The Panthers padded their lead in the ninth. Wehler drove in Cameron Barto on a single, and then Franks scored on a wild pitch.
Gilbertson was relieved in the bottom of the sixth by freshman Jonathan Bautista, who allowed just two hits while striking out two batters in four innings.