Pitt awaits NCAA Tournament fate after loss to Notre Dame in Big East baseball
CLEARWATER, Fla. — Pittsburgh committed five errors, two in the final inning, and took a disappointing exit from the Big East Tournament, falling, 3-2, to Notre Dame in 10 innings at Bright House Field.
Seventh-seeded Notre Dame (34-23) advanced to Sunday's championship game, beating the Panthers (42-17) for the second time in three days. Again, some of Pitt's wounds were self-inflicted, especially at the end.
Notre Dame's first two batters in the 10th reached base on infield errors. After a sacrifice bunt and intentional walk, it looked like Pitt could get out of a bases-loaded jam, as a pop fly wasn't deep enough to tag up. But Ryan Bull's single under the glove of shortstop Evan Oswald scored the winning run.
“I'm pleased with how hard they played, but nobody in that locker room feels good about anything right now,” coach Joe Jordano said. “We're going to have to wait and see if we can extend this season.”
Pitt now must wait for Monday's announcement of the 64-team NCAA field — the Panthers, seeking their first bid since 1995, had been projected as an at-large pick by some sites but have finished by losing six of their last eight games.
Pitt believed it had a 3-2 lead in the top of the 10th. With runners and first and second, Notre Dame pitcher Nick McCarty's pickoff attempt sailed high and bounced into the stands. Jordano expected two bases awarded to each runner, which would have scored a run, but officials ruled McCarty hadn't disengaged from the rubber — a pitcher's throw out of play results in a single base awarded; a non-pitcher merits two bases.
“It's going to be interesting to see the replay,” Jordano said.
That left Pitt with runners at second and third with one out, but Oswald popped out to third, and Boo Vasquez struck out looking to end the inning.
“We had a lot of opportunities in that game. We gave a few opportunities as well, and against a good baseball team, you can't do that,” Jordano said.
Infielder Sam Parente, who drove in Pitt's runs with singles in the second and sixth innings, said his team is optimistic about its future but is already proud of what it accomplished.
“It was a special season,” he said. “All we can do is cross our fingers and hope for the best. We had opportunities to certify ourselves, but some things didn't go our way.”
Pitt is firmly on the bubble — the Panthers went 4-5 against top-50 opponents, with three wins coming in a home sweep of Notre Dame. Another came in Friday's 7-6 win against Seton Hall, eliminating a rival bubble team. The Panthers went 2-6 down the stretch, but five of the losses came against top-30 opponents.
“It was, on paper, the most successful season in the history of the program, with the exception of winning a Big East championship,” Jordano said. “When you look at the full body of work, you do feel good about it. Quite frankly, I feel we've done enough to earn the right to play in the NCAA Tournament.”
Greg Auman is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.