March 8, 2012
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – Senior Matt Iannazzo tied a school record with his 24th career win at Pitt, pitching the Panthers to a 6-5 win over Xavier on Thursday in the Snowbird Classic.
Iannazzo allowed two earned runs in seven innings of work against the Musketeers, improving to 3-0 this season. He gave up eight hits, but didn’t walk a batter while striking out six.
“I really liked the way we played today. The entire team was into the game. It was great to see,” said Pitt head coach Joe Jordano. “Iannazzo pitched well to get a win and Tanner Wilt was great to save it for us. Xavier is a very good baseball team. They played very hard. Congrats are in order for Matt on tying the all-time pitching wins record. We have a big weekend coming up and we are looking forward to it.”
A pair of freshmen helped the veteran tie the wins record as Wilt continued to impress in the closer role and Elvin Soto hit his team-leading fourth home run of the season.
Wilt entered the game with one out and a runner on first base in the bottom of the eighth inning. He needed just one batter to get the Panthers out of trouble – they had given up a pair of runs in the frame – as he got the first batter he faced to line into a double play.
The final inning was more of what the Panthers have come to expect from their rookie reliever, just one hit and two strikeouts as he consistently hit low 90s with his fastball, including a foul-tip strike three to end the game.
Wilt has embraced being the team’s closer this season and he couldn’t be a better fit for the role, bringing intensity and emotion with him every time he steps on the field.
“It’s definitely a different mindset. Starters have to be a little laid back. You can’t be jumping around every inning, you have to kind of settle in,” Wilt said. “I like coming in and throwing as hard as I can for an inning, maybe two.”
Wilt, who has three saves this season, closed out the game for the second straight day of the Florida trip. In the two games, he has pitched 2.2 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and striking out four batters.
Coming off a 3-1 win over Coastal Carolina in his last start, Iannazzo shut down the opposing lineup for the second game in a row. He lowered his ERA to 4.21 (best among the team’s starters) and has 22 strikeouts to just five walks.
The Panthers scored one run in three straight innings midway through the game. Ronald Sucre smacked an RBI single in the fifth, Stephen Vranka scored on a wild pitch and Soto hit his homer in the seventh.
Despite a strong wind blowing in for the most of the game, Soto sent the second pitch he saw against reliever Jacob Bodner over the right field fence. Just 11 games into his career at Pitt, Soto has 12 RBI, while six of his 13 hits are for extra bases.
Rick Devereaux went 2 for 5 with two runs scored, upping his season-opening hit streak to 11 games. He was one of eight Pitt players to combine for 12 hits in the game. Roche, Douglas, and Sucre had three hits apiece, while Vranka, Anthony Defabio, Soto and Derik Wilson all had one.
The Panthers will have a day off tomorrow before resuming play in the Snowbird Classic with a doubleheader on Saturday. They will take on Miami (OH) at 11 a.m. and Akron at 3 p.m. Pitt will wrap up its Florida trip with a game against Michigan State on Sunday.