April 14, 2018
PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Georgia Tech baseball got a run in the top of the ninth to send the game into extra innings where the Pittsburgh Panthers got an RBI single in the bottom of the 14th inning to walk-off with a 4-3 win on Saturday at Charles L. Cost Field in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Sunday’s rubber game has been moved up to an 11 a.m. start due to the forecast of rain.
The 14-inning marathon game was the second extra-inning game for the Jackets this season, as Tech loss to UConn 9-7 in 10 innings back on Feb. 18, and the longest game of the year for Tech at four hours and 16 minutes.
With the scored tied at 3-3, Pittsburgh’s Liam Sabino hit a line drive single to left field that scored Connor Perry from second base to give the home team the 4-3 walk-off win in the bottom of the 14th.
The Jackets, who fell behind to the Panthers 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth on a pair of Pitt RBI singles, tied the game up at 3-3 in the top of the ninth on a lead-off double by designated hitter Tristin English and an RBI double two batters later from Austin Wilhite.
After the Pitt lead-off hitter Alex Amos walked to start the bottom half of the ninth, the Jackets went to reliever Micah Carpenter who got the next three batters out by way of a sacrifice bunt, a strikeout looking and a fly out to center field to send the game to extra innings knotted up at 3-3.
Both teams’ offenses fell silent in the extra innings, as the two teams combined for just one hit, a Chase Murray single in the top of the 10th, over the 10th, 11th and 12th innings.
The Jacket arms of Joseph Mannelly (0.1 IP, BB, K), Carpenter (1.0 IP, K), Robert Winborne (2.2 IP, BB, K) and Jonathan Hughes (1.1 IP, ER, 2 hits, 3 BB, 3 K) held the Panthers off the scoreboard over 4.1 innings of play from the end of the eighth to the 14th.
Tech stranded one runner in the 10th, two in the 11th and two more in the 13th, while Pitt left one runner on base in the 11th inning and left the bases loaded in the 13th as Hughes got a huge strikeout to end the frame.
Again, Tech put a runner on base in the 14th inning, as Nick Wilhite drew a base-on-balls and then stole second. However, the next two GT batters flew out to center and went down on strikes to keep the Panthers in it going in to the bottom half of the 14th, the fifth extra inning of the game.
Tech’s Hughes (0-2) was handed the loss, while Pitt reliever RJ Freure (3-1) picked up the win throwing 5.2-scoreless innings in relief.
Starters Connor Thomas (7.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 hits, BB, 9 K) for Georgia Tech and Matt Pidich (8.1 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 7 hits, BB, 8 K) both had superb outings, yet neither factored in the decision.
Pitt had three players with two hits apiece in Sabino (2-for-6, 3 RBIs), David Yanni (2-for-5, BB, run) and Chris Cappas (2-for-3, RBI).
Tech didn’t wait until the late innings to get on the scoreboard on Saturday afternoon, as the Jackets took advantage of a two-out walk to Kyle McCann to bring up both English and Bailey in the top of the first. The four- and five-hole hitters put back-to-back singles together with Bailey’s base knock scoring McCann from second to put the visitors in front 1-0 midway through the first inning of play.
The Jackets then doubled up its lead in the top of the fourth on a solo home run off the bat of Austin Wilhite that hit off the display screen of the video board in left field to extend the White and Gold’s lead out to 2-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth.
After a 5-4-3 double-play ball ended the Panthers inning in the bottom of the second, GT’s Thomas sent the next nine Panther hitters down in order before a lead-off walk put a runner on base for the home team in the bottom of the sixth.
Following a single to right center to put runners on first and third, Pitt’s Sabino hit a sacrifice fly to deep left to score Perry from third and cut the Tech lead to one at 2-1 with three innings to play.
However, a tailor-made 4-6-3 double play squashed the inning for Pitt, as Thomas and the Jackets took a 2-1 lead into the seventh.
The Jackets left one runner on in the top of the seventh, while Thomas pitched around a pair of singles in the bottom half of the inning to strand two Pitt runners and keep the visitors in front by one at 2-1 heading into the eighth.
In the eighth, the Jackets stranded an insurance run in the top half of the inning, which proved to be crucial as Pitt got the bats going in the bottom half of the frame where they took a 3-2 lead to the ninth.
The Jackets stranded 11 runners on base for the game, while the Panthers left 10 on the base paths. Tech struck out 19 times at the plate, walking just four times, while Pitt had 15 strikeouts on the night, but drew seven walks, none more important than the two free passes in the bottom of the 14th inning.
The Yellow Jackets (21-15, 9-8 ACC) and Pittsburgh (18-14, 7-10 ACC) will wrap up the ACC three-game series tomorrow at 11 a.m.