March 2, 2012
CONWAY, S.C. – Head coach Joe Jordano became Pitt baseball’s all-time wins leader, earning the 403rd victory of his career in the Panthers’ 3-1 win at Coastal Carolina on Friday. Jordano, now in his 15th season with the Panthers, passed long-time coach Bobby Lewis (1955-90) for the record.
“I am humbled because of the great respect I have for Coach Lewis as well as his wonderful family, Laverne and Chip,” Jordano said. “I am honored to be a part of Pitt Baseball history, one in which Coach Lewis played such a significant role and wrote so many of the chapters. “
Jordano has posted an impressive 403-335-2 record since taking over at Pitt in 1998. For his career, which includes 10 years at Mercyhurst, he is 686-453-2, and he has garnered seven Coach of the Year honors.
Pitt associate head coach Danny Lopaze has had the chance to witness Jordano’s success for the past four seasons, helping guide the team to third-place finishes in the Big East in each of the past two seasons.
“I think the best thing an assistant coach can say about a head coach is that I feel like I go to work every day and work with Coach Jordano. Not a lot of people can say that in the coaching profession,” Lopaze said. “He has taught me a lot since I've had the privilege to coach with him and I couldn't be happier to say that I coach with the all-time winningest coach in our program’s history. He's done it with class and the utmost professionalism.”
Adding to the significance of the record-setting win was the fact that it came against a quality opponent in Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers have won five straight Big South Championships.
Matt Iannazzo looked like the pitcher the coaching staff expects him to be this season, winning a pitcher’s duel with Coastal’s Tyler Herb. The Pitt senior allowed the one earned run in eight innings of work, giving up seven hits and three walks, while striking out five.
With Pitt leading 3-1 and a runner on base in the ninth, J.R. Leonardi struck out Keith Picconi for the first out, setting the stage for Alex Caravella to notch his first save of the season. Caravella retired the final two batters, the first on a popout to the catcher and the second on strikes.
The win evens the Panthers’ record at 4-4.
“It was a very solid win for our program tonight. Coastal Carolina is a premier program led by a tremendous coach and friend, Gary Gilmore,” Jordano said.” Iannazzo pitched great, and our relievers did a super job. Our defense played very well and we came up with three quality at-bats that produced runs.”
The Panthers knew they were going to have to capitalize on any chances they had going against a tough pitcher like Herb, who entered the game with a 2-0 record and 0.64 ERA. They did just that with unearned runs in the first and fifth inning and a solo home run by Elvin Soto in the sixth.
Soto’s home run was the third of his freshman season, tying senior Rick Devereaux for the team lead. The blast led off the sixth inning and spelled the end of Herb’s day on the mound, helping the Panthers get to the Chanticleers’ bullpen relatively early.
It would be the last run Pitt scored, but it didn’t matter as Iannazzo, Leonardi and Caravella kept the Coastal lineup at bay. It was a solid performance from start to finish for the Panthers, something Jordano noted the team needed to work in the week leading up to the game.
Pitt took advantage of a Coastal Carolina miscue in the first inning and manufactured a run to start the game. Leadoff batter Stephen Vranka reached on a throwing error to lead off the game and moved to second on a single by Anthony Defabio. Doing just what they needed to do, the Panthers moved Vranka to third on a groundout by Devereaux and took the lead on Boo Vazquez’s sacrifice fly.
The Panthers have now outscored their opponents 12-2 in the first inning of games.
Despite not having a hit in the game, Vazquez finished with two RBI. He drew a bases loaded walk in the fifth that scored Evan Oswald. Small ball once again paid off for the Panthers as Oswald led off the inning with a walk, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Derik Wilson and later scored on back-to-back walks by Devereaux and Vazquez.
Devereaux’s streak of a hit and RBI in every game this season came to an end, but he did extend his hitting streak to nine games dating back to last season, with a single in the third inning.
Pitt will continue play in the Coastal Carolina Invitational with a game against Illinois on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Illini are the defending Big Ten champions.