Mike Bell On Early Start to the 2023 Pitt Baseball Season
After losing two out of three games to Maine last week, the Panthers are back in Florida this weekend for a four-game series against Harvard. On Friday, Noah Martinez hit a walk-off grand slam to lift the Panthers to a 12-10 win over the Crimson.
“We had a couple of good days working in Pittsburgh. One practice inside and the other one outside. We just had a great work out here in Florida,” Pitt head coach Mike Bell told Pittsburgh Sports Now on Thursday. “As far as Harvard, they have a couple of potential draft pick pitchers. Jay Driver and Chris Clark have gained a lot of national recognition. It’s going to be a big challenge for us. They’re highly ranked arms coming out of the Ivy League and Cape Cod League. When most publications are rating them that high, they’re going to be a good challenge for us.”
The Panthers’ pitching rotation hasn’t been great in the early portion of the season, as they’ve surrendered at least eight runs in each outing. Bell attributes the pitching struggles to youth and facing older teams.
“It’s definitely something we can build on,” Bell said. “When you attribute high scoring in college baseball, you’ll see a lot of experience and a lot of logging at bats. The hitting is ahead of the pitching early in the season.”
Pitt will play 15 of its first 16 games in Florida to start the season. The Panthers first ACC matchup is against Florida State on March 10 in Tallahassee. As of right now, Bell is just focusing on getting his unit better and not ACC play.
“We’re not trying to get ahead of ourselves,” Bell said. “We have a lot of development in ourselves. We have to clean up our game, a lot of new guys in new places. Our league is always going to be tough. We have major league prospects and teams who are going to contend for national championships. But we knew what kind of league we got into when we signed up.”
The Panthers series against Maine last weekend was at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla., which is the spring training home of the Baltimore Orioles. Bell said the experience to play at an MLB spring training facility was great for his club.
“It was a great weekend for our guys,” Bell said. “The opportunity to play in a beautiful spring training facility. That’s what we strive for at Pitt, is to give great opportunities for our student athletes. It’s just another experience that provides lifelong memories.”
Pitt will continue its four-game series against Harvard on Saturday morning from Centennial Park. The first leg of the doubleheader on Saturday starts at 11:30 a.m., while the second game is at 2:30 p.m. The Panthers wrap up their series with the Crimson on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
Thank you for the continued baseball coverage. This has not been a traditionally supported sport at Pitt, but with playing in the ACC, and as college baseball gains popularity, there is no reason the Panthers can’t have a quality program, if supported properly.
Is there a way to buy the hats they’re wearing in the picture?
Just by luck, caught PITT’s baseball team was in Sarasota while I was finishing off a winter break on Siesta Key. I made it to Ed Smith for the opener win against Maine. Met some nice parents and relatives of the players. All nice people. Rightfully proud of the kids