April 13, 2012
PITTSBURGH – The Pitt baseball team knocked off Big East-leading USF on Friday, and did it against one of the top pitchers in the conference. The Panthers’ Matt Wotherspoon out-dueled 6 feet, 8 inch Andrew Barbosa to give his team the 2-1 win.
The Bulls were 8-1 in conference play entering Friday night’s game and were tied with Connecticut for first-place in the standings. The Panthers won their third straight game to improve to 17-15 overall and 3-7 in the Big East.
“That was a big win. We knew coming in that they were going to be a very tough team,” said Pitt head coach Joe Jordano. “Barbosa is one of the best pitchers in the conference. We got a couple of timely hits and executed the situational at-bats.”
Wotherspoon went 8.1 innings as he improved to 3-1 this season. The sophomore noted his “up-and-down” season following the game, but when he has been on – like he was in a 13-strikeout, complete-game performance against Michigan State earlier this season – he has been as good as any Pitt pitcher.
While he wasn’t racking up the strikeouts against the Bulls on Friday, although he did have five, he was in control from start to finish. He gave up five hits and walked one batter. The only run he allowed was a solo home run to left field by Todd Brazeal.
“Pitching against a guy like Barbosa, who has put up good numbers all year, I knew I was going to have to keep them to a pretty low score today,” Wotherspoon said. “Thankfully we got a couple off him and I was able to keep them to one.”
Matt Iannazzo has established himself as one of Pitt’s all-time great pitchers by racking up a program-record 25 career wins, but he was called upon in a save situation against USF. Iannazzo relieved Wotherspoon following a one-out double in the top of the ninth inning, and earned his first career save by striking out the next two batters.
“You come out throwing full throttle and give everything you have,” Iannazzo said about the different approach in a relief appearance. “My team needed me in that role today and it worked out well. We got a big W.”
Like every team he has faced this season, Pitt struggled early on against Barbosa, who entered the game with a 2.20 ERA and 55 strikeouts. What the Panthers were able to do, though, was get the key hits when they needed them, scoring one run in both the fourth and fifth innings.
Coach Jordano has talked in the past about the success rate of an inning when the leadoff batter gets on base, especially with a walk. Freshman Elvin Soto did just that for the Panthers and moved to third on Rick Devereaux’s opposite-field double. Sam Parente drove in the game’s first run with a fielder’s choice groundout to shortstop.
Pitt added its second run the following inning thanks to another walk, this one coming from Evan Oswald with one out. Oswald advanced to second on a single by Kevin Johnson and scored on a single by Anthony Defabio.
Pitt will look to clinch a series win in the second game, scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m. The series will wrap up on Sunday at noon.