Pitt, seeded at No. 11 out of 12 teams in the ACC Baseball Tournament, defeated both No. 7 Georgia Tech on Tuesday and No. 2 Louisville on Wednesday to make it out of their pool and into the semifinals.
Now their opponent is set, in another low seed, No. 10 NC State. The Wolfpack defeated No. 6 Wake Forest on Tuesday and then No. 3 Miami on Wednesday to win their pool.
Pitt came into the ACC Tournament on a bad run of games, losing seven out of their last nine and finishing the regular season losing all three games at home in a sweep against Georgia Tech.
Early on against the Yellow Jackets, the Panthers found themselves down 6-2 in the sixth inning, needing a comeback to salvage their season.
They got just that, scoring eight runs in the sixth inning against the Yellow Jackets, kickstarted by a two-run home run by senior outfielder Ron Washington Jr. and then a solo shot from senior first baseman Bryce Hulett. The Panthers took advantage of poor pitching and got a run to get the final five runs in the inning to take a 10-6 lead.
The Panthers also used a fantastic pitching performance, from usual mid-week starter, first-year Johnathan Bautista. Bautista, pitched four scoreless innings to get the first save of his college career, stymying the Yellow Jackets offense and ensuring their hopes to make the next round.
Pitt played good against Louisville in early April, taking two games out of three at home. The teams played each other close throughout, with Pitt senior infielder Jeffrey Wehler hitting two home runs for three RBIs, accounting for all the offense throughout the middle innings. This came as a surprise for the Pitt offense, as Wehler only hit two home runs the entire regular season out and usually leads off for the team.
The Panthers found themselves down 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh and junior catcher Tatem Levins hit a solo shot to make it a one-run ball game. They then tied the game in the bottom of the eighth, thanks to some great situational hitting, with junior infielder Brock Franks hitting a deep fly ball to bring Washington home from third.
Pitt won the game in the bottom of the ninth with Hulett hitting a single with two outs to score Wehler from third, bringing them to only their second ACC Semifinals appearance and first under head coach Mike Bell.
Now, the challenge for Pitt is in NC State. NC State swept Pitt in a regular season series late in 2021 and then beat them in the second game of pool-play in the ACC Tournament to end their season.
The Panthers take on the Wolfpack on Saturday, May 28 at 5 p.m. in the second game of the semifinals at Truist Field in Charlotte, N.C.
The winner takes on the winners of Pool A/Pool D. With the games played through Wednesday, the teams that are eligible are either No. 1 Virginia Tech or No. 8 North Carolina out of Pool A and No. 4 Notre Dame or No. 9 Florida State of Pool D. The final is Sunday, May 29 at noon.
The bad end of the regular season for Pitt means that they need to not only defeat NC State, but also win the final to make it to the NCAA Regionals.
The Panthers are on the cusp of making history for the program and beating the Wolfpack would get them into their first ever ACC Tournament final game. They also are on a 27-year run of missing out on the NCAA Tournament and they are just two victories away from making program history.