Pitt Baseball Falls in 11 Innings to No. 4 Miami (Fla.)

MIAMI – Despite two solid pitching performances, the University of Pittsburgh baseball team fell to No. 4 Miami by a score of 4-3 in an 11-inning contests from Alex Rodriguez Park Saturday night.

(Photo Courtesy of Pitt Athletics)

A double from Frank Maldonado and subsequent fielding error on Miami would allow the Panthers to tie it up in the ninth inning, as Pitt once again kept pace with the Coastal Division leader. Pitt would push Miami to 11 innings before a solo homerun sealed the game for the Hurricanes, clinching the series.

“For a second night in a row, we battled our backsides off and came up a run short,” said head coach Joe Jordano, who coached his 1,000th career game as the skipper of the Panthers Saturday night. “We had our opportunities in this ballgame, but it did not go our way. In both games we out-hit our opponent but did not get the hit we needed. It has been two very emotional and hard-fought games. We have played two of our better ballgames this year and came up on the wrong side. We need to find the mental, emotional and physical strength to come back hard and try to get a win tomorrow.”

Miami struck first in the opening frame, as a triple from Christopher Barr and single from Zack Collins plated the first run of the game.

Starter Josh Falk settled in after the first, retiring the next eight batters and nine of the next 12 before a lightning delay in the bottom of the fifth.

Pitt would take the lead in the third as a walk to Maldonado and a double from Charles Leblanc put runners on the corners with one out. Alex Kowalczyk would send a sacrifice fly to center, allowing Maldonado to score and tie things up at 1-1.

A single off the bat of Nick Yarnall would plate Leblanc and give the Panthers a 2-1 advantage.

In the fifth, lightning approached Alex Rodriguez Park, as the game was delayed for 30 minutes with Falk on the bump and a runner on first. The righty would retire the next two batters coming out of the delay to end the inning.

The Hurricanes got the lead back in the sixth as mistakes in the field continued to plague the Panthers. After three straight singles to load the bases with no outs, a throwing error on Leblanc would allow two to score, giving the Hurricanes a one-run lead.

Pitt’s offense would continue to threaten as it managed to put two on in seventh and load the bases in the eighth, but was unable to capitalize on either scoring chance.

Reliever Yaya Chentouf kept the Panthers in the game, entering with one out in the sixth following a pair of singles to load the bases. He would get Jacob Heyward to ground into an inning-ending double play in just his fourth pitch of the frame. The freshman allowed his first walk of the season to Miami’s second batter in the seventh inning, breaking a streak of 18.2 innings pitched without a free pass.

Despite the walk, Chentouf would retire six of seven batters faced in the seventh and eighth, as Miami took a 3-2 lead into the ninth.

Pitt kept it interesting in the ninth, as a pinch-hit double from Jacob Wright put the tying run in scoring position with one out. A double off the bat of Maldonado and a fielding error in right allowed Wright to score as Pitt tied it up.

Leblanc would draw and intentional walk and a five-pitch walk to Yarnall would follow as Pitt was able to load the bases with a pair of outs for Ronnie Sherman. The third baseman was called on strikes as the inning came to an end with the score tied at 3-3.

Chentouf returned to the mound for the bottom of the ninth, pitching around an error by Leblanc, which allowed the lead-off hitter to reach. He would retire the next three batters in order to send the game into extras.

In the 10th, Aaron Schnurbusch landed on first with a single to left field. Pitt was unable to advance the senior any farther as he was stranded to end the Pitt half of the inning.

Continuing his longest outing of the season, Chentouf got Barr to groundout to start the inning, surrendering just his second walk of the season to Collins, before getting the catcher out on a fielder’s choice and drawing a groundout by Johnny Ruiz.

Back-to-back singles from Leblanc and Kowalczyk put runners on first and second for the Panthers in the bottom of the 11th before a fielder’s choice from Yarnall put runners on the corners with two outs for Sherman. The senior would groundout to end the inning as Pitt stranded a pair to head to the bottom of the stanza, tied at 3-3.

Despite tossing 5.1 innings without surrendering a hit, Chentouf would let up his first in the bottom of the 11th as a solo homerun over the left field wall would lead Miami to a walk-off victory.

With the loss, Pitt falls to 25-22-0, 10-15-0 in the ACC. Chentouf earns his first loss of the season, falling to 0-1. The freshman pitched 5.1 innings, allowing just one hit, one earned run and two walks, striking out four in his longest outing of the year.

Starter Falk pitched a solid outing, going 5.1 innings, allowing nine hits, three earned runs, one walk and striking out three.

Offensively, Maldonado led the way, going 3-of-5 with a run scored and a walk. Kowalczyk and Yarnall both went 2-of-5 with an RBI each, as Yarnall also drew a walk.

The Panthers will conclude the series tomorrow as they head to Alex Rodriguez Park for the final game, set for 1 p.m. on ESPN3.

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