Feb. 14, 2013
PITTSBURGH - The University of Pittsburgh baseball team will open its 2013 season when it travels to Wichita, Kan., for a meeting with Missouri Valley Conference power Wichita State. The three-game series at Eck Stadium on Feb. 15-17 marks the first meeting between the two programs.
Fans can follow the series through Wichita State's online video stream for a fee at ShockerVision.tv or they can tune into the radio broadcast at ShockersRadio.com at no expense.
"Wichita State has been one of the better teams in all of college baseball for quite some time now," head coach Joe Jordano said. "We are going to have to play smart baseball."
On the heels of a 28-28 season, which included an 18-11 record in nonconference play, the Panthers look to jumpstart momentum early in 2013 against a formidable Shockers team. Wichita State, picked to finish second in the Missouri Valley Conference and slated at No. 32 in the Collegiate Baseball Preseason Top-40 Poll, are the first of three nationally ranked teams Pitt is scheduled to compete against this season.
Junior Ethan Mildren will get the nod as the opening day starter against Shockers' junior Cale Elam, who pitched exclusively out of the bullpen (26 relief appearances) in 2012 recording a 2.25 ERA and .221 batting average against in 44 innings. Mildren posted a 6-6 record with a 3.76 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 95.2 innings last season.
On Saturday, junior Matt Wotherspoon the team's leader in strikeouts (86) a season ago, will take the mound against A.J. Ladwig, a sophomore that held a 3.14 ERA in 63 frames in his debut season with Wichita State. The Shockers plan to use redshirt sophomore Kris Gardner, who tallied a 5-2 record and 2.66 ERA in 2012, on Sunday while the Panthers will send out Rhys Aldenhoven a junior right hander who pitched at Hill College in Texas last season.
Both teams enter the series with potent lineups comprised of several key offensive threats. Pitt returns three players in Sam Parente, Casey Roche, and Boo Vazquez to the starting nine that each batted over .300 last season. The Panthers were one of the top offensive threats in the Big East Conference in 2012, posting top-five finishes in hits (557), batting average (.290), on-base percentage (.376), slugging percentage (.399), and total bases (766).
Anchoring the heart of Wichita State's offensive attack will be redshirt senior Johnny Coy who received preseason All-Valley honors at first base this season and earned first-team All-Valley honors in 2012 as a designated hitter. Coy is coming off a season in which he batted .344 with 17 doubles, three triples, nine home runs, and 63 RBI.
This weekend's series features two head coaches that have led their respective programs to new heights in their careers. Last season, Jordano met several milestones in his head-coaching career. A 3-1 win against Coastal Carolina on March 2 rewarded him with his 400th win at Pitt. On April 18, a solo home run by Roche against Akron solidified Jordano's 700th career victory. Jordano holds a .598 career winning percentage in 25 seasons at Pitt and Mercyhurst College.
Across the diamond in the home team's dugout is Gene Stephenson, whom Jordano described as "a legend" in college baseball. Stephenson, who is currently in second place in career wins among active coaches, boasts a 1,798-647-3 career record and has led Wichita State to the most wins of any Division-I program in the last 35 seasons.
GAME 1: FRIDAY, FEB. 15, 4 p.m. EST
PITT: RHP Ethan Mildren (2012: 6-6, 3.76 ERA)
WSU: RHP Cale Elam (2012: 6-4, 2.25 ERA)
GAME 2: SATURDAY, FEB. 16, 3 p.m. EST
PITT: RHP Matt Wotherspoon (2012: 4-4, 5.03 ERA)
WSU: RHP A.J. Ladwig (2012: 4-1, 3.14 ERA)
GAME 3: SUNDAY, FEB. 17, 2 p.m. EST
PITT: RHP Rhys Aldenhoven (2012: N/A)
WSU: LHP Kris Gardner (2012: 5-2, 2.66 ERA)