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Gil Homers Twice at No. 17 Pitt

by David Villavicencio

PITTSBURGH – Raymond Gil hit two homers, but the Miami Hurricanes dropped their series opener at No. 17 Pitt on Friday afternoon.

The No. 20 Canes (17-9, 10-8 ACC) had their six-game winning streak snapped by the Panthers (15-10, 9-9 ACC) after Pitt scored nine runs over their final three turns to bat to beat Miami, 12-6.

“We went to our bullpen there and just couldn’t put guys away,” head coach Gino DiMare said. “They ended up putting hits together, credit to them, they did a good job. It’s a good offense, it’s a veteran offense, but we got to do a better job when we’re up 5-3.”

Gil’s three-run homer in the top of the sixth put Miami ahead and had the Canes looking to get six outs before turning the ball over to closer Carson Palmquist, but the Panthers rallied before the Hurricanes could get the game in their closer’s hands.

Pitt scored a run and then loaded the bases against reliever Daniel Federman before Sky Duff hit a grand slam off Anthony Arguelles to put Pitt back on top, 8-5.

“We’re looking there in the sixth inning if we can just get it to the to the eighth inning, we’re probably going to go to who everybody knows we’re going to go to, but we couldn’t get through it,” DiMare said. “We just could not get through it and nobody could seem to stop the bleeding there. We’ve got to do a better job and the pitchers have done a good job. They have done a good job, but they’ve got to be really good against the hitting team like this. They’re going to have to execute their pitches.”

Pitt added two more against reliever Alex Munroe in the seventh when reserve catcher Ramon Padilla hit a two-out, two-run homer that gave the Panthers a five-run lead, 10-5.

Gil clubbed a no-doubter deep to left with one out in the top of the eighth, marking his third career multi-homer game and first since he hit two at FAU on March 23, 2019.

“He’s been working with [hitting coach Norberto Lopez] and trying to shorten up everything, keep his feet up underneath him and be a better two-strike hitter,” DiMare said. “He’s working hard, he’s getting better and better and it was good to see him do that. Hopefully, he’ll continue it through the weekend, and he’ll come up big in situations where it really matters.”

The Panthers scored two more runs in the eighth off reliever Nicholas Regalado, quelling the momentum gained by Gil’s homer in the top half of the inning.

Miami started right-hander Jake Garland after having to scratch scheduled starter Alejandro Rosario after the true freshman woke up feeling sick. The Panthers struck in the first inning, getting the first two runners on before Garland got a key double play. But Ron Washington Jr.’s single thru the left side drove in Sky Duff to give Pitt a 1-0 lead.

“He got his ground balls but still some pitches were up and didn’t get ahead of hitters like I’d like to see him do,” DiMare said of Garland, who started in place of Alejandro Rosario. “At the end of the day, when the pitches were up, they obviously took advantage of them. It’s a tough situation, obviously, because he wasn’t expected to start. We were hoping to get a better start from him, and I know he was, too. The bottom line is we were up 5-3 in the sixth inning, we’ve still got to win that game.”

Miami threatened in the second and third innings before breaking thru in the top of the fourth. Christian Del Castillo and Alex Toral had back-to-back one-out singles before Raymond Gil’s sacrifice fly to center allowed Del Castillo to tag up and even the score at 1-1.

But Pitt responded with a two-run bottom half of the inning, as Bryce Hulett’s two-run double put the Panthers back ahead, 3-1.

The Hurricanes got a run back in the top of the fifth, as Anthony Vilar drove in Gabe Rivera with a one-out single to left that cut the Panthers’ lead to one, 3-2.

An inning later, Gil’s three-run bomb off Pitt starter Mitch Myers put Miami ahead, 5-3, but the lead was short-lived.

Miami and Pitt are back in action Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.