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Pitt baseball loses, has tough road to Big East final

| Thursday, May 23, 2013, 6:06 p.m.

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Two errors led to three unearned runs, and the Pitt baseball team stumbled to a 5-3 loss to seventh-seeded Notre Dame in the Big East Tournament, forcing the Panthers to take a tougher path through the bracket.

“Unfortunately for us, we made some defensive mistakes, which is uncharacteristic of the way we play,” coach Joe Jordano said. “At this time of year, in these type of games against great competition, you have to make routine plays.”

The third-seeded Panthers (41-16) outhit the Fighting Irish (33-23), 9-8, but couldn't get the same clutch hitting they had in Wednesday's opening win over St. John's. A win Thursday would have sent them to Saturday's semifinals, but instead, they play second-seeded Seton Hall in an elimination game Friday. A win there and Pitt would need to beat Notre Dame twice Saturday to reach Sunday's title game.

A quick exit could put Pitt's chances for an at-large bid to NCAA regionals in jeopardy.

“To start thinking about things that we have no control over just adds to the mental clutter we can't have right now,” Jordano said. “We have to keep it fresh and clear their minds, get a good night's sleep and try to come back and play good baseball tomorrow.”

Pitt's troubles started in the second inning, when third baseman Sam Parente had a throwing error with two outs, allowing Notre Dame's first run. Frank DeSico followed with a single for a 2-0 lead.

Pitt starter Matt Wotherspoon loaded the bases in the fourth on two hit batters and a bunt. An error by shortstop by Evan Oswald made it 3-0, and a fourth run scored on a bases-loaded double play.

“It's a tough loss for all of us, a real tight game,” said Wotherspoon, who pitched into the eighth inning. “The focus now is forgetting and moving on to tomorrow.”

Jordano will start junior right-hander Rhys Aldenhoven (8-0, 2.12 ERA) in Friday's game. Seton Hall will start right-hander Josh Prevost (5-2, 3.04 ERA).

Greg Auman is a freelance writer.

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