Despite a rocky start, Pitt baseball finished the Music City College Classic in Nashville, Tennessee, having won three out of four games and improved its record to 5-3 on the young season. The Panthers went down to Nashville and split a two-game series with the Bradley Braves and swept the Lipscomb Bisons.
After splitting a four game series against Canisius last week, the Panthers came into the weekend looking for improvements on the mound and that is exactly what they got.
In game one on Friday vs. Bradley, senior right-handed pitcher Matt Gilbertson started and pitched five innings, allowing one run and three hits. Gilbertson rebounded from a rough outing in the season opener where he allowed four runs in just four innings†
Sophomore righty Hayden Summers closed the game out by pitching the last two innings, allowing one run and punctuating his second save of the season with a strikeout.
Offensively, the Panthers scored just enough runs to squeeze past the Braves by a final score of 4-3. Senior right fielder Ron Washington Jr., junior left fielder Kyle Hess and senior infielders Jefferey Wehler and Bryce Hulett all scored runs against Bradley. Washington’s score came at a clutch time, homering in the bottom of the eighth inning to set up Summers’ save opportunity.
In game two, the Panthers again only allowed three runs, but failed to score enough to pull out a win. Junior right-handed pitcher Billy Corcoran threw six innings and allowed all three earned runs, but struck out three batters and only allowed four hits as well.
The Panthers just couldn’t spark anything in the batter’s box in game two. Hess and infielder Sky Duff were the lone bright spots in a Pitt lineup that racked up only eight hits and two runs. Hess and Duff combined for three hits and two runs, including a solo home run by Hess in the ninth to bring the Panthers within one run. But it was not enough as Bradey took a win from Pitt, 3-2.
Bradley was quiet offensively. First year Jack Lincoln was its top hitter, as he tallied two hits and two RBIs in game one. On the mound, Bradley was much more successful. Senior left-handed pitcher Grant Jausel pitched seven innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out four batters. Jausel pitched well, but didn’t have the run support to get him the victory in game one. First-year right-handed pitcher Jacob Kisting pitched seven innings in game two, only allowing one earned run and five hits.
Game three versus Lipscomb — the second of Saturday’s double-header — saw the best hitting and pitching performance of the season for the Panthers† In a 16-0 victory, the Panthers scored in all but two innings. Wehler scored four times and Hess homered in back-to-back games as nothing seemed to go wrong for the Panthers.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Logan Evans turned in an impressive outing on the mound against Lipscomb on Saturday. Evans pitched seven scoreless innings and only allowed three hits while striking out six. Evans remains undefeated as a starter this season and has thrown 14 scoreless innings.
Sunday’s final game vs. Lipscomb was a less productive outing for the Panthers, but they were able to pull out a close 6-5 win† Junior right-handed pitcher Ben Dragani turned in a lackluster performance on the mound, allowing two runs and walking four batters in just two innings. The Panthers found themselves down one heading into the seventh when senior righty relief pitcher Baron Stuart took the mound, but his work gave the Panthers enough time to start a rally.
Stuart pitched the final two innings, allowing no hits and striking out four batters. Hulett hit a leadoff homer in the top of the ninth to set up Stuart for a save in the final inning and he delivered. Pitt only tallied six hits and two of them were from catcher Tatem Levins. The Panthers came through when it mattered to pull out a tough victory.
The Panthers take the field again next weekend in Fayetteville, North Carolina, when they play in the All-American Classic. Pitt will kick off the event by taking on Army at 3 pm on Friday. The games against Ohio State at 1 pm on Saturday and Campbell at 3 pm on Sunday round out the weekend.