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Baseball drops home series 2-1 to No. 14 Pitt

After falling behind 2-0, the Cavaliers battled back with a 10-4 win Monday

<p>Senior first-baseman Devin Ortiz sent in two home runs throughout the challenging series.</p>

Senior first-baseman Devin Ortiz sent in two home runs throughout the challenging series.

Virginia took on No. 14 Pittsburgh at Disharoon Park over the weekend, concluding the series 2-1 as the Panthers (11-5, 8-4 ACC) put on dominant performances Saturday and Sunday. The Cavaliers (8-9, 3-9 ACC) racked up 19 hits in the series, including 11 in their 10-4 victory Monday, and senior first-baseman Devin Ortiz had an impressive weekend with two homers. 

Game 1: Virginia 1, Pittsburgh 2

Virginia fell 2-1 in the series-opener Saturday as Pittsburgh scored the go-ahead run in the top of the sixth. Starting on the mound, junior right-hander Mitch Myers threw all nine innings, holding the Cavaliers to just three hits in 105 pitches.

Senior left-hander Andrew Abbott opened the series on the hill for Virginia, starting the game as the ACC leader in strikeouts, and continued through 5.2 innings before leaving the diamond. Abbott recorded seven strikeouts — combining for a total of 11 with senior right-hander Blake Bales — but was charged with the Panthers’ two runs as they tallied six hits against the veteran pitcher. 

The Cavaliers jumped on the board first in the third inning as junior shortstop Nic Kent knocked a fly ball to right field, allowing Ortiz to score from third. The Panthers struck back immediately in the fourth with a solo home run off the bat of senior second-baseman David Yanni, tying the score at one apiece. Virginia was unable to respond and went on to produce just a single hit through the rest of the game. 

Pittsburgh scored the deciding run in the top of the sixth to jump out front in the series. A single followed by a walk set up the opportunity as junior first-baseman Bryce Hulett hit a single to right field to score junior left-fielder Ron Washington Jr. from second. 

Myers went on to pitch a complete game, holding the Cavaliers to a mere three hits and producing five strikeouts. 

Game 2: Virginia 2, Pittsburgh 6

The Panthers clinched the series Sunday afternoon as they held the lead through nine innings to secure a comfortable 6-2 victory over Virginia. Earning his third win of the season, junior right-hander Matt Gilbertson threw 109 pitches in eight innings on the mound, allowing just five hits, two runs and four walks. The Cavaliers’ starter senior right-hander Griff McGarry recorded the loss after going 2.2 innings, allowing four hits and two runs in the first three innings. 

Pittsburgh’s early lead carried through the rest of the matchup. Junior right-hander Zach Messinger came out of the bullpen to relieve McGarry — throwing 3.1 innings, striking out four batters and allowing just one earned run. With four runs on the board, two Panthers rounded out the scoring for Pittsburgh as they crossed home against freshman pitcher Luke Schauer.

Virginia’s two runs came in the sixth and eighth innings after the Panthers had taken full control of the ball game. Freshman designated hitter Kyle Teel — who finished the day two-for-four with an RBI — produced a two-out single up the middle to score senior center-fielder Marc Lebreux and cut the lead to 4-1. Ortiz knocked in the second run in the eighth inning with a line-drive home run to left field — the homer was the senior’s first of the season. The Cavaliers remained largely silent throughout the rest of the game, and senior pitcher Jordan McCrum threw a swift final inning to secure the win for Pittsburgh.

“Two back-to-back really outstanding starting pitching performances by their number one and number two starters,” Coach Brian O’Connor said. “We showed signs, showed flashes at times but couldn’t put together a big inning at all and certainly they did with three innings where they had two runs. We just couldn’t muster up a big inning at all and based [on] what we had seen on [Gilbertson], that’s what you needed to do and we couldn’t pull it off.”

Game 3: Virginia 10, Pittsburgh 4

Virginia turned out a dominant performance Monday to finish the series with a 10-4 win. Virginia racked up the runs against the Panther bullpen, and 11 hits off the bats of eight different Cavaliers fueled the Virginia victory. Junior right-hander Mike Vasil went 5.2 innings on the mound for the Cavaliers, charged with two Pittsburgh runs and two hits, but recorded five strikeouts on the day. After Virginia hammered starting senior pitcher Stephen Hansen with four runs in the first few innings, the Panthers had to work through five more arms as Virginia’s bats stayed hot. 

Despite the high-scoring matchup, the game remained competitive in the early goings as Pittsburgh took the lead in the second inning off a solo home run by Yanni — his second solo shot of the series. The Cavaliers responded in the third, however, as junior third-baseman Zack Gelof sent a two-out double down the left field line to pick up a pair of RBIs. A single to center by senior left-fielder Brendan Rivoli allowed Gelof to score, extending Virginia’s lead to 3-1.

After the Cavaliers added another run in the fourth inning, the Panthers opened up the game with a three-run fifth inning. Sophomore left-hander Nate Savino came in for Vasil, allowing a pair of hits that brought in two runs, but ultimately earned the win in 1.1 innings pitched. Graduate pitcher Stephen Schoch closed out the game, throwing the final two innings and preserving the lead with four strikeouts — including three in the eighth. 

Virginia had a seventh inning rally to break the 4-4 tie as graduate catcher Logan Michaels produced a chopper up the middle, traveling all the way to second as two runs crossed the plate. Ortiz then sent his second homer of the series over the left field wall to extend the lead to 8-4. The Cavaliers’ final pair of runs came in the eighth to produce the 10-4 series final. 

“I’m proud of our guys on how they bounced back today,” O’Connor said. “Obviously the first two games of the series were not how we wanted them to go but I thought we went on the attack offensively today. A number of guys had good, solid days. In order to have big offensive days, you have to have multiple players in your lineup have multiple hits and RBI because in this league it’s not going to happen often where the other team gives you a bunch of runs.”

Virginia returns to play Wednesday as it travels to face Liberty in a non-conference matchup. Game time is set for 4 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN+.