Pitt Baseball Shutout by North Carolina Saturday

HAPEL HILL, N.C. – Despite seven innings of effective work from starter Aaron Sandefur, the University of Pittsburgh baseball team fell to sixth-ranked North Carolina by a score of 4-0 in game two from Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C.

(Photo of Pitt’s Aaron Sandefur courtesy of Pitt Athletics)

“I though Sandy [Aaron Sandefur] did a really good job today,” said head coach Joe Jordano. “He kept the ball down and gave us a quality start. We played very well defensively and the combination of those two things gives us a chance. We had some scoring opportunities that came up short, but I thought we took an aggressive approach at the plate and had our chances.”

The hot Tar Heel bats picked up right where they left off in the opening stanza of play, jumping out to a 2-0 lead. A single to left field from lead-off hitter Brian Miller kicked things off, as Adam Pate walked and a sacrifice from Kyle Datres put both runners in scoring position. Tyler Ramirez would single to left center and score both Miller and Pate.

Alex Kowalczyk’s single up the middle in the second was the first hit of the afternoon for Pitt, but Aaron Schnurbush would line into a double play at the next at bat as Kowalczyk got caught at first.

Starter Aaron Sandefur found a grove in the bottom of the second, retiring the Tar Heels in order to keep things at 2-0 in favor of North Carolina. Despite a pair of strikeouts to being the Pitt half of the third inning, a triple from Manny Pazos breathed life into the Panther squad as the catcher was the first Pitt runner in scoring position on the afternoon. Tar Heel starter J.B. Bukauskas would record his third strikeout of the inning to strand Pazos at third.

The Tar Heels extended their lead in the third when Pate reached first on a bunt single, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch before Kyle Datres grounded out to David Yanni, brining Pates around. On the next at bat, Ramirez crushed a solo shot to right field to give North Carolina a 4-0 advantage.

The fourth was quiet for both teams as the Panthers stranded two following a single from Matt Johnson and a walk from Kowalczyk. A beautifully turned double play from Charles LeBlanc would end the inning as the shortstop made a diving stop to extinguish the runners.

Pitt continued to threaten in the fifth as Yanni singled to right field to start the inning but was out at second following a fielder’s choice from Caleb Parry. Pazos would walk in the next at bat but neither runner would advance farther as the Panthers stranded both to end the inning.

Coming out for the fifth inning, Sandefur would retire the first two batters faced and jump out to a 1-2 count on Pate before the right fielder sent a hard-hit shot in the left field corner to turn a triple. The Panther defense was able to respond, sitting down the next batter to prevent the run from scoring and hold the lead at 4-0 in favor of North Carolina.

The contest would remain scoreless over the next four innings of play, as the Panthers were unable to advance a runner past second base and stranded four in the final four frames.

“We just need to catch a break on some of the hard hit outs,” the skipper added. “String a few hits together. We have to continue to work and have a break out game in all phases.”

With the loss, the Panthers fall to 6-6-0 on the season and 0-2-0 in the ACC. Pitt will return to the grass tomorrow in the series finale with the start time changed to noon from Boshamer Stadium.

Notes: Pitt falls to 5-3 in the all-time series with the Tar Heels, losers of two straight … the shutout marks the first time the Panthers failed to score a run since a 12-0 loss to then 16th-ranked Miami (FL) on May 2, 2015 … Ron Sherman did not start in the contest, snapping a streak in which he earned a spot in the starting lineup in 27 straight outings, dating back to the 2015 season … the last time Sherman did not lace up with the starters was on April 17, 2015 against Florida State … Charles LeBlanc snapped a 10-game hit streak … Nick Yarnall extended his hit streak to nine … Charles LeBlanc reached base for a 19th consecutive time, dating back to the 2015 season … Nick Yarnall extended his on-base streak to 11 straight contests … Pitt falls to 3-5 on the road in 2016 … the Panthers drop to 0-2 in ACC action and 0-2 vs. teams ranked in the top 25 … Pitt is now 6-4 in day games and 6-6 in games played on grass … the Panthers are now 1-4 when trailing after six and 0-5 when trailing after eight … Pitt falls to 0-5 in the month of March and 2-3 in games played on Saturday … Pitt also drops to 1-4 in games following a loss.

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