March 7, 2012
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – Ethan Mildren pitched seven solid innings and Pitt evened its record at 5-5 with a 5-4 win over Sacred Heart on Wednesday at the Snowbird Classic. With the win, the Panthers avenged a 7-6 loss to the Pioneers the previous day.
Mildren allowed four runs – just two were earned – on 10 hits. He struck out six and didn’t walk a batter, improving to 1-0 in three appearances this season.
The Panthers led 5-0 after six innings and held off a late rally by Sacred Heart for the win. Hard-throwing freshman Tanner Wilt entered the game to start the ninth and shut the door with a one-two-three inning for his second save of the season. He has pitched a perfect inning in three of his four appearances.
“There were two bright spots in today’s game. I thought our starting pitcher Ethan Mildren did a great job and our closer Tanner Wilt was awesome,” said Pitt head coach Joe Jordano. “We need to continue to work hard to improve our play and play complete games. We look forward to another opportunity tomorrow.”
Pitt had its leadoff batter reach base in the first five innings of the game and six of eight innings total. It paid off in the middle innings as the first batter scored three straight times.
Anthony Defabio, who entered this week second in the nation in on-base percentage, kept the great pace going by reaching base four times in five plate appearances (two HBPs, one walk and one double). He led off the third with a double and scored on a single by Rick Devereaux. Two innings later he led off with a HBP and later scored on a double by Casey Roche.
Devereaux upped his season-opening hitting streak to 10 games with a 3-for-5 day at the plate. He drove in his 18th run of the season, giving him at least one RBI in nine games.
The top of the order has been as good as any team in the nation so far this season with three players – DeFabio, Devereaux and Casey Roche – with on-base percentages of at least .500, and a leadoff hitter in Stephen Vranka who is batting .350 with 14 runs scored.
“The top of the lineup is producing very well, but the bottom part has a lot of potential, too,” DeFabio said. “It seems like anytime Vranka or I get on, Devereaux, Roche or one of the other guys is able to knock us in.”
The Panthers actually set themselves up for a lot more runs than they ended up scoring, leaving 12 runners on base, including seven in scoring position. Still, scoring hasn’t been much of a problem for the team this season as it entered this week 11th in the nation in runs per game.
“As a team we have produced fairly well in the first 10 games, but we still have some more work to do,” DeFabio said. We have to focus on every pitch with the approach that each pitch in each bat is significant. We need to focus on the situation at hand and on executing as best as we can.”
Ronald Sucre started for the fourth time this season at third base and played a key role in Pitt’s win. He led off the fourth inning with a double to deep left-center field and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Derik Wilson.
Pitt will return to action at the Snowbird Classic with a game against Xavier on Thursday at noon.