Feb. 20, 2014
Pitt (2-1, 0-0 ACC) • USC-Upstate Tournament
Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 vs. Butler (1-1, 0-0 Big East) at 12 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014 at USC-Upstate (3-2, 0-0 Atlantic Sun) at 4 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014 vs. Fordham (0-0, 0-0 Atlantic 10) at 12 p.m.
Live Stats: http://www.pittsburghpanthers.com
Live Video: http://asun.neulion.com/asc/console (Saturday)
Twitter/Media Relations: @PittBaseballUD
Twitter/Coaching Staff: @PITTBASEBALL
Tournament Notes: Pitt
All-Time Record vs. Butler: 0-0
All-Time Record vs. USC-Upstate: 0-0
All-Time Record vs. Fordham: 4-0-1
Last Meeting: March 14, 2010 in West Palm Beach, Fla. | Pitt 10, Fordham 1
Friday: RHP Matt Wotherspoon (SR/Mountain Top, Pa.) (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. TBD
Saturday: RHP Rhys Aldenhoven (SR/Victoria, Australia) (0-0, 4.91 ERA) vs. LHP David Roseboom (0-1, 1.80 ERA)
Sunday: TBD vs. TBD
THE BUTLER BREAKDOWN: Pitt will meet Butler for the first time in history on Friday, Feb. 21 in its first contest of the USC-Upstate Tournament. The Bulldogs currently own a 1-1 record this season after splitting a two-game set against Illinois State, where they fell in the season opener, 9-1, and won their most recent affair by a 7-6 score. Butler, which posted a 25-27 record (.481 winning percentage) in the Atlantic 10 last year, is now in its first season of membership in the newly remodeled Big East Conference. Last season, the Panthers registered an undefeated 10-0 mark against current members of the Big East in games against Georgetown, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Villanova.
SCOUTING THE SPARTANS: Pitt will also compete against USC-Upstate for the first time in history on Saturday, Feb. 22 in its second match-up in Spartanburg, S.C. The Spartans enter weekend play with a 3-2 record while boasting a three-game winning streak marked by victories over Dayton (W, 13-2), Kentucky (W, 8-6) and The Citadel (W, 6-2). In 2013, USC-Upstate tallied a 28-30 record and advanced to the semifinals of the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament, where they lost, 4-3, to East Tennessee State. Three players with .400-plus batting averages have carried the Spartans’ offense through the first five games of the regular season—junior Steven Dowling (.615), freshman Daniel Fickas (.474) and junior Erik Samples (.435). This weekend’s meeting marks the Panthers’ first game against an Atlantic Sun opponent since Feb. 25, 2007, when they lost to Lipscomb, 4-2.
THE FORDHAM FILE: Pitt is scheduled to play Fordham on Sunday, Feb. 23 in the finale of the USC-Upstate Tournament. The Panthers own a 4-0-1 advantage in the all-time series against the Rams, with the most recent game coming on March 14, 2010 in a 10-1 victory. Fordham went 22-33 in the Atlantic 10 last season and posted an 8-16 record against conference opponents. Anchoring the Rams’ attack at the plate will be infielder Joseph Runco, who batted .303 with 21 RBI and a team-leading 19 stolen bases in 55 games during his freshman campaign in 2013. Pitt holds a 32-14-1 all-time record (.691 winning percentage) against Atlantic 10 programs dating back to 1941.
COASTING PAST COASTAL: The Panthers took two out of three games from Coastal Carolina (ranked No. 40 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Preseason Top-40 Poll) on the road last weekend, marking the sixth consecutive season-opening three-game series that they have won since 2000. Pitt averaged 7.3 runs per game against the Chanticleers and tallied an early-season best of 10 runs in the first game of its Sunday doubleheader. Wotherspoon opened his senior slate with a winning decision after allowing no earned runs in 5.1 innings of work and junior transfer Hobie Harris (JR/McKinney, Texas) impressed in his Panther debut with 4.1 frames tossed out of the bullpen in the series’ second contest. Boo Vazquez (JR/Youngstown, Ohio) and Jordan Frabasilio (JR/Chandler, Ariz.) led the team with four hits and a .333 batting average each. Vazquez tallied a weekend-best four RBI against Coastal Carolina and Frabasilio became the first player to hit a home run on Opening Day for Pitt since Joe Leonard on Feb. 19, 2010.
NON-CONFERENCE? NO PROBLEM: Since the start of the 2008 season, the Panthers have registered a 104-58 record (.642 winning percentage) against non-conference opponents, including a 22-9 showing (.710 winning percentage) in 2013 and a 2-1 mark this year. Pitt averaged 7.9 runs per game vs. non-conference teams last season and outscored their out-of-league opponents by a 244-156 margin (+88). The Panthers have won 15 or more non-conference games in each of the past five seasons and have not fallen below a .615 mark during that stretch. Furthermore, Pitt has won nine consecutive non-conference three-game sets dating back to 2005, with five series resulting in sweeps. The Panthers are also 29-16 (.644 winning percentage) during invitational play since the start of the 2010 season.
ROAD WARRIORS: Pitt has posted a 77-62 record (.554 winning percentage) away from home since 2010, in addition to going 17-12 (.586 winning percentage) away from Charles L. Cost Field in 2013. Dating back to last season, Steven Shelinsky, Jr. (SR/Furlong, Pa.) owns the best road batting average (.340, 33-for-97) among active players, including six home runs and 23 RBI. Stephen Vranka (SR/Monroeville, Pa.) is next with a .336 mark (44-for-131) away home from, followed by Casey Roche (SR/Downingtown, Pa.), who has batted .307 (39-for-127) with four home runs and 38 RBI on foreign turf.
THE BOYS OF WINTER: The Panthers are 18-10 (.643 winning percentage) in the month of February in the last five seasons and 36-33 (.522 winning percentage) all-time under head coach Joe Jordano (1998-present). In 2013, Pitt tied its program record for most February victories (originally set in 2010) when it went 5-1 in six games against Wichita State and Wofford. Pitt had three players with .400-plus batting averages in February last season—Eric Hess (JR/Erie, Pa.) (.478), Roche (.462) and Shelinsky, Jr. (.400). Roche has hit safely in 16 of 18 career games played in the month of February, recording three home runs and 21 RBI during that span.
ALL-AMERICAN HONORS FOR ROCHE: Roche was named a 2014 Preseason First-Team All-American by the NCBWA in December after delivering a team-leading .339 batting average and conference-leading 65 RBI a season ago. Roche, who hit a career best nine home runs in 2013, was also tabbed a Third-Team All-American by the NCBWA following his extraordinary junior campaign. The slugging senior outfielder owns a .331 batting average in 154 career games and he is currently sixth on the program’s all-time list in RBI (131) and 13th in hits (187).
WOTHERSPOON RETURNS: Wotherspoon was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 20th round of the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft but opted to return for his senior season with the Panthers. Wotherspoon, who has led Pitt in strikeouts in consecutive years, is one of two Panthers in program history to record 85 or more strikeouts in multiple seasons (Billy Muldowney, 2005 & 2006). Last season, the right-handed power pitcher joined former ace Ethan Mildren (2011-13) to become the first duo in Pitt baseball history to log more than 100 innings each (107.0) in the same season and was also a member of the first weekend rotation in program history to have three starting pitchers with eight or more wins (9). Wotherspoon is sixth on the Panthers’ all-time list in strikeouts (207) and innings pitched (253.2) and he is one win (19) shy of becoming the sixth pitcher in program history to reach 20 victories in his career.
PANTHER PROSPECTS: Two integral members of Pitt’s 2014 roster—Vazquez and Adam Dian (JR/Gibsonia, Pa.)—have been named to prospect watch lists by nationally accredited publications. Vazquez, a 38th round selection by the Colorado Rockies in 2012, has been named the No. 67 prospect on Baseball America’s top-100 list. The 6-foot-4, left-handed hitting junior has also been listed by Perfect Game as the No. 11 prospect in the ACC. Dian, a junior transfer from Temple (2013: 2.33 ERA, 19 SO, 19 IP), was recognized by Perfect Game as the ACC’s Top Newcomer in addition to being the No. 17 prospect in the conference.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK: The Panthers officially joined the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) on July 1, 2013 after spending 29 baseball seasons in the Big East. Pitt is 55-99 (.357 winning percentage) all-time against current members of the ACC and 37-52 (.419 winning percentage) overall under Jordano. The ACC has seen a total of nine programs make regional appearances since 2009, including eight with at least two appearances and six with five. The conference has also had the second-most regional appearances (37) and second-most appearances in the College World Series (9) in the past five seasons, with two programs advancing to the collegiate game’s biggest stage in 2013 (North Carolina, a No. 1 national seed, and North Carolina State). Six ACC programs are currently ranked in Baseball America’s top-25 poll—No. 1 Virginia, No. 4 Florida State, No. 6 North Carolina State, No. 13 Clemson, No. 16 Miami (FL) and No. 17 North Carolina.
FORTIFIED AT FORTY-TWO: Pitt set a program record in wins on May 12, 2013 when it defeated Villanova, 10-2, for its 40th victory of the season (also Jordano’s 750th career win) in the Panthers’ final Big East game at Charles L. Cost Field. Pitt finished at 42-17 on the year with an 18-6 conference record, edging the Panthers’ 1995 39-win season and tying their program best in conference wins (originally set in 2010). Last season marked the sixth time in history that Pitt has won 35 or more games (fifth time under Jordano). The Panthers, who swept a program-record eight three-game series in 2013, also posted their best winning percentage (.712) since 1981 (.758, 25-8) to rank 17th in NCAA Division-I baseball. Pitt has held itself at or above .500 in five consecutive seasons (2009-13), two shy of the program record of seven straight seasons (1967-73). The Panthers were one of 35 teams to win more than 40 games last season, placing themselves in the top 11.8 percent at the NCAA Division-I level.
STATISTICAL STANDING: Pitt’s offense ranked seventh nationally in scoring (7.5) and runs (444), 12th in on-base percentage (.403), 16th in slugging percentage (.448) and 20th in home runs (49) last season. In the conference, the Panthers were first in batting average (.302), on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs, RBI (394), home runs (by a 20-home run margin over Louisville), total bases (926) and walks (292). Pitt was second in hits (625) and doubles (108), tied for third in triples (23) and fifth in stolen bases (72) as well. The Panthers also placed in the Big East’s top five in ERA (3.59)—the program’s best mark since 1981 (3.20)—strikeouts (349) and batting average against (.258). Defensively, Pitt converted 61 double plays on the season to lead the conference and to tie for 10th nationally.
PITT IN THE POLLS: The Panthers were ranked in all five major collegiate baseball polls for the first time in program history in 2013, earning its highest-ever ranking, No. 16, from the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, a No. 21 ranking by Baseball America and a No. 23 ranking in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’, NCBWA and Perfect Game top-25 polls. Pitt’s seven weeks in the polls more than doubled its prior-best mark of three weeks set in 2010 and it also held ground in the top-20 for three straight weeks from April 29-May 13. The Panthers finished with a 15-10 record vs. teams ranked or receiving votes in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Preseason Top-40 Poll last season, including a three-game series sweep over No. 16 Notre Dame on April 12-14.
- Roche became the fourth-fastest player to reach 130 RBI in his career when he drove in a run on an infield single in the season opener against Coastal Carolina. He has 131 RBI in 152 games played. Last season, Roche was 14th in the nation in RBI per game (1.10).
- Vranka totaled eight at-bats against the Chanticleers last weekend to bring his career total to 500.
- Wotherspoon (253.2) surpassed the 250-inning plateau for his career after tossing 5.1 innings against Coastal Carolina in his first start as the Panthers’ ace.
- Joseph Harvey (JR/Audobon, Pa.) needs to convert two more saves to tie Joe Leonard (11, 2008-10) for the most in program history.
- J.R. Leonardi (SR/Pittsburgh, Pa.) (64) is five appearances shy of tying Alex Caravella (69, 2010-13) for first place on the program’s all-time list.
- Roche is 13 hits (187) away from 200, 19 RBI away from 150 and two games started from 150 in his career.
- Vazquez stands six games started shy of 100 and two hits shy of 125 in his two-plus year career with the Panthers.
- Vranka needs 10 hits and two more runs to reach 150 in each of those individual career categories.
- Wotherspoon is one win away from becoming the sixth player in program history to reach 20 victories in his career.