first_img Published on April 21, 2019 at 4:50 pm Contact Danny: | @DannyEmerman Comments Walker Barbee had Alexa Romero timed up. Pittsburgh’s catcher had fouled off four-straight pitches, spraying line drives down each baseline. Romero knew Barbee had locked into her rise-balls and worked the outside third of the plate.  And on the tenth pitch of the second inning at-bat, Barbee’s barrel connected and sent Romero’s pitch flying to the right-field fence for an RBI triple. The deep fly ball opened the scoring for Pitt, and her two-run homer off Romero in the fourth inning padded the Panthers’ lead. “We’re going to throw our best,” catcher Gianna Carideo said, “and if she can hit it, good for her. You tip your cap.”On Sunday, Romero allowed six runs on six hits in 5.1 innings of work, and her five earned runs tied her season-high for Syracuse (19-25, 8-10 Atlantic Coast). Two days after a shaky start against Pitt, Romero couldn’t blow her rise-ball past the Panthers (9-38, 4-14), this time in a 6-1 loss. The 1-2 weekend record against last-place Pitt stings Romero and the Orange as they work to clinch an ACC tournament berth. “It just wasn’t my day, all in all,” Romero said after the loss. “I needed to be sharper today, but it just didn’t happen.” AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe first sign of struggle in the circle for Romero happened in the first inning, when she ran the 0-0 pitch to No. 2 hitter Hunter Levesque high and inside, grazing her helmet. Though Levesque reached base and made it to third on a steal and a wild pitch, Romero struck out Pitt’s next two batters to avoid any damage. In the next inning, the bottom of the lineup, specifically Barbee, got to her. Barbee was locked into Romero’s rise-ball, her primary pitch, and her curveball. In her last three at-bats against Romero — spanning back to yesterday’s 2-1 loss — Barbee is perfect (3-for-3) with a double, triple and home run and five runs batted in. After the run scored, SU pitching coach Miranda Kramer calmed Romero down in the circle. “Honestly, I had to tip my hat to Barbee today,” Romero said, “because she had my number no matter what.”Barbee scored on the next at-bat on a sacrifice fly, but Romero struck out Morgan Batesole looking to end the inning. In the fourth inning, Romero walked Connor McGaffic. Barbee was up for her third plate appearance. On a 1-2 pitch, Barbee hit a shot over the fence in left-center to extend Pitt’s lead to 5-0. Romero didn’t watch the ball’s flight. Instead, she walked back to the rubber with her head down, softly kicking dirt around her circle. But Barbee wasn’t alone in leading Pitt’s offense. To lead off the top of the third inning, Olivia Gray expected a first-pitch rise-ball and turned on Romero’s pitch. She drove a line drive over the left-field fence. “I just think (Pitt) had a really, really good mindset coming in, which is we’re going to take hacks,” Syracuse head coach Shannon Doepking said. “And they did. And their hacks went very, very far and very hard today.”As the Panthers dominated Romero, Syracuse’s bats were nonexistent. SU’s first hit of the game came in the fifth inning, on freshman AJ Kaiser’s solo home run. But the six runs Romero let up made Kaiser’s fifth homer of the season inconsequential. Romero entered Sunday’s contest with a 2.80 ERA, but had allowed six runs in her previous 20 innings pitched. Friday’s loss turned her record to 13-9 after going 17-12 last season. An RBI single in the fifth inning gave Pitt its sixth run off Romero and forced Doepking to pull her ace out of the game. Opposing batters might be catching on to Romero’s tendencies or tricks, Carideo theorized. “She’s thrown a lot over the past couple of years,” Carideo said, “so people are going to make adjustments. It wasn’t the outing we wanted.”center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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