Pitt’s Ninth Inning Comeback Falls Short vs. Kent State

Yaya Chentouf Pitt Baseball
KENT, Ohio – A ninth inning comeback was stopped short at Schoonover Stadium in Kent, Ohio as the Panthers fell to Kent State by a score of 7-6 Tuesday evening in Pitt’s first mid-week contest of the season.

(Photo courtesy of Pitt Athletics)

“I was pleased with the way we battled back today in the ninth with a chance to take the lead against a very good Kent State team,” said head coach Joe Jordano. “This is a tough place to play, but I thought our younger players did a very solid job. We had seven freshmen and sophomores competing today and they are definitely gaining valuable experience.”

Pitt struck first in the opening frame Jacob Wright got things going with a leadoff walk. Wright would steal second before Caleb Parry took a pitch to put men on first and second for Frank Maldonado. A ball hit into the glove of the shortstop was mishandled as the Golden Flashes attempted to turn a double play, and Wright came across to take a 1-0 lead.

Things would quiet over the three innings as both pitchers got in a groove. Pitt starter Dan Hammer would retire eight of the next 10 batters he faced.

Hammer would get in a jam in the fifth as Kent State plated two to take a 2-1 lead. A leadoff single would put a runner on before a sacrifice bunt put Tim DalPorto in scoring position. A double to left off the bat of Dom Iero tied it up and a two-out single from Josh Hollander gave the Golden Flashes their first advantage of the game.

The Panthers regained control in the top of the fifth as Nick Banman would draw a walk. P.J. DeMeo would reach on an error by the Kent State third baseman before Alex Griffith would take a pitch to load the bases. The next batter, Alex Amos, would put a sacrifice fly into center to score a runner as the Panthers tied it up at 2-2.

In the next at-bat, right fielder Yaya Chentouf singled to left, scoring DeMeo as the Panthers took a 3-2 advantage.

The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as the Golden Flashes tied it up in the bottom half of the inning with back-to-back singles and a fielding error by Amos allowing the home team to tied it at 3-3.

Pitt’s offense swelled in the seventh as the Panthers went back on top for the third time in the contest. Back-to-back singles from Parry and Maldonado put two on with no outs as Banman laid down a sacrifice bunt to put both runners in scoring position with one out. A sacrifice fly from DeMeo plated Parry as the Panthers went up 4-3. Griffith and Amos would each draw walks to load the bases but the Golden Flashes would end the frame with minimal damage as Pitt held a 4-3 advantage.

A three-run home run from Dylan Rosa in the bottom of the 7th gave the Golden Flashes the first multi-run lead of the game, 6-4.

The Panthers kept it going in the ninth, as a comeback was stopped short in the final frame. Banman would draw a one-out walk and was followed by a DeMeo hit by pitch to put two on. An RBI single to right from Griffith plated Banman and put a pair on the corners with one out. Amos would reach on a fielder’s choice to score DeMeo, cutting the Kent State lead to just one. A single from Chentouf put men on first and second but a diving catch in foul territory by the Kent State left fielder ended the game as the Golden Flashes claimed a 7-6 victory.

With the loss, Pitt falls to 8-10, 1-5 in the ACC. The Panthers are now 28-27 all-time against the Golden Flashes. The two teams will meet again on April 19 at Charles L. Cost Field.

“It’s a work in progress,” added Jordano. “Back to practice tomorrow and then to face a strong Virginia Tech team that took the series from No. 1 Florida State this past weekend. Great baseball ahead for us.”

The Panthers will return to action this weekend, hosting Virginia Tech in a three-game tilt at Charles L. Cost Field. First pitch in the series is set for Friday at 3 p.m. Game two is set for 3 p.m. on Saturday with the series finale at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

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