By: Josh Taylor, KDKA-TV Sports
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In Pitt’s first appearance in the ACC baseball tournament, one of their veteran leaders took the ball and took control of the game early. Redshirt senior Matt Pidich dominated on the mound, allowing only one run on three hits with one walk, and the Panthers backed him up with just enough offense to carry them to a 2-1 victory.
“We got the timely hit, a couple of timely hits,” said head coach Joe Jordano. “That was the difference in the game. It’s a testament to the incredible job that Matt did on the bump today. Really great day for our program.”
Pidich needed only 83 pitches to complete the seven innings, retiring 21 of the 25 batters he faced. He struck out eight of them, raising his season total to 99.
“We played Georgia Tech earlier this season, so going into it, [I] kind of knew what I was getting into. They’re a big-swinging offense. You have to throw good pitches. If you don’t, they’re going to make you pay.”
After six scoreless innings, Pitt got on the board when second baseman Liam Sabino was hit by a pitch to lead off the seventh. Designated hitter Ron Washington Jr. moved him over with a sacrifice bunt, and then first baseman Caleb Parry singled up the middle with two outs to drive in Sabino and put Pitt ahead, 1-0. Left fielder Chris Cappas followed with a triple – the first of the freshman’s career – off the right field wall to score Parry. Cappas was 2-for-4, adding a double for five total bases on the day.
Georgia Tech answered in the bottom half on a ground out by Tristin English, driving in Kyle McCann, who led off the inning with a double. But then Pidich got a strikeout and a lineout to end the threat. Sophomore RJ Freure threw two scoreless innings in relief to seal the victory.
“He’s been through a couple of injuries, and his perseverance, his work ethic, his meticulous preparation both on and off the field, the time he takes and the detail he puts in between starts, and you see the result of it,” Jordano said of his staff ace. “This is a result of five years of incredible work and a person that never took the shortcut, always did things the right way, and that’s a culmination today of that effort.”
The Panthers continue pool play Wednesday night against top-seeded North Carolina, who swept the Panthers during a weekend series in Chapel Hill in March.
“This was one of our goals that we set earlier in the season, just getting into the tournament,” said Pidich. “Anyone can win the postseason. But we have this approach going into the tournament that we don’t care what seed you are. We don’t care if you’re the 8-seed, the 1-seed. We’re the 12-seed, and we’ve been the underdogs ever since we came into the ACC. You can pick us last, but we’re going to come at you with everything we have.”
A win against the Tar Heels will put Pitt in the semifinal round. Sophomore Dan Hammer is the probable starter on the mound for the Panthers. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.