Feb. 26, 2014
Pitt (4-2, 0-0 ACC) • Keith LeClair Classic • Greenville, N.C.
Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 vs. Ohio State (5-2, 0-0 Big Ten) at 1 p.m.
Saturday, March 1, 2014 at East Carolina (3-5, 0-0 Conference USA) at 3 p.m.
Sunday, March 2, 2014 vs. Western Kentucky (6-2, 0-0 Sun Belt) at 10:30 a.m.
Live Stats: http://www.pittsburghpanthers.com
Live Video: http://ecupirates.com/allaccess (Saturday, $)
Twitter/Media Relations: @PittBaseballACC
Twitter/Coaching Staff: @PITTBASEBALL
Tournament Notes: Pitt
Player Pages: Pitt
All-Time Record vs. Ohio State: 1-17
All-Time Record vs. East Carolina: 0-1
All-Time Record vs. Western Kentucky: 0-0
Last Meeting: March 13, 2009 in West Palm Beach, Fla. | Ohio State 20, Pitt 3
Friday: RHP Matt Wotherspoon (SR/Mountain Top, Pa.) (2-0, 3.48 ERA) vs. RHP Greg Greve (1-0, 3.18 ERA)
Saturday: RHP Joseph Harvey (JR/Audobon, Pa.) (0-0, 3.60 ERA) vs. LHP Reid Love (0-1, 3.18 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Rhys Aldenhoven (SR/Victoria, Australia) (1-0, 3.72 ERA) vs. RHP Jake Thompson (2-0, 1.93 ERA)
"As we continue to build, this weekend is going to be a tremendous test for us as a team," head coach Joe Jordano said. "We are facing three quality teams that have veteran clubs and have played well during the first two weekends of the season. Entering our first year in the ACC, it was important for us to play a great non-conference schedule to make certain that we are prepared for the challenges that we will have in conference play. This weekend certainly provides us with a very high level of competition that we can expect in the ACC. We have a lot of work to do and I know we are looking forward to this weekend."
BUCKEYE BITS: Pitt will open the Keith LeClair Classic against Ohio State on Friday, Feb. 28, marking the 19th overall meeting between the two programs since the series commenced in 1942. The Buckeyes own the all-time series advantage at 17-1, winning the most recent affair, 20-3, on March 13, 2009 at the Papa John's Classic in West Palm Beach, Fla. The Panthers' lone victory over Ohio State came on May 17, 2008 by a 7-3 score in six innings played in Columbus, Ohio. Pitt has gone 10-21 (.323 winning percentage) against Big Ten opponents dating back to 1998. On the season, the Buckeyes are 5-2 and enter tournament play after having swept its slate in Orlando, Fla. last weekend, where they defeated UCF (W, 9-3 (13)), The Citadel (W, 5-4) and Oklahoma (W, 6-3). Offensively, despite its .238 team batting average, Ohio State has been carried by the likes of Ronnie Dawson, a freshman outfielder who leads the team in batting average (.455), on-base percentage (.478), slugging percentage (.682) and hits (10).
SCOUTING THE PIRATES: The Panthers will take on East Carolina for the second time in history on Saturday, March 1 in Greenville, N.C. The last time Pitt played the Pirates was on March 8, 2008 during the fifth annual Keith LeClair Classic, when they fell to East Carolina in a 10-5 ball game. Including their overall record vs. the Pirates, the Panthers are 2-5 all-time against Conference USA teams. East Carolina is 3-5 this season and has lost four consecutive contests against No. 1 Virginia and VCU. However, aside from their losing record, the Pirates have registered impressive individual and group numbers on the mound through the first eight games of the regular season. East Carolina's pitching staff has posted a 3.31 ERA and has been led by a dominant arsenal of arms in the bullpen. Ryan Williams has produced a 2-0 record and 1.38 ERA to go along with 10 strikeouts and no walks through 13.0 innings of work. Additionally, Nick Durazo, Brett Mabry and Drew Reynolds have combined for a 1.69 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 16.0 total relief frames.
MEET THE TOPPERS: Pitt will battle Western Kentucky for the first time in history on Sunday, March 2 in the final game of the Keith LeClair Classic. The game will also be the Panthers' first ever contest against a Sun Belt program. The Hilltoppers are 6-2 on the year and enter the weekend riding a four-game winning streak after sweeping UNC Asheville in three games and topping Vanderbilt, 3-2, in a midweek road victory Tuesday afternoon. Western Kentucky is batting .297 as a team and its pitching core currently boasts a remarkable 2.66 ERA through the first two weeks of the season. The bat of Scott Wilcox, who leads the team with a .483 batting average, a .605 on-base percentage, a .793 slugging percentage, 14 hits, two home runs and eight RBI, has primarily anchored the Hilltoppers' lineup. Cody Wofford has also been productive at the dish, hitting three home runs and scoring 11 times to head Western Kentucky in each of those categories.
NON-CONFERENCE? NO PROBLEM: Since the start of the 2008 season, Pitt has registered a 106-59 record (.642 winning percentage) against non-conference opponents, including a 22-9 showing (.710 winning percentage) in 2013 and a 4-2 mark this year. The Panthers have won 15 or more non-conference games in each of the past five seasons and have not fallen below a .615 percentage during that stretch. Pitt has also won nine consecutive non-conference three-game sets dating back to 2005, with five series resulting in sweeps. The Panthers are averaging 7.3 runs per game against its out-of-league opponents this season, a number nearly identical to last season's figure of 7.9 runs per game. Furthermore, Pitt is 31-17 (.646 winning percentage) during invitational play since 2010.
ROAD WARRIORS: The Panthers have posted a 79-63 record (.556 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.) has led all active players with a .333 batting average (35-for-105) on the road, including six home runs and 23 RBI. Stephen Vranka (SR/Monroeville, Pa.) owns the second best mark away from home at .326 (47-for-144), followed by Casey Roche (SR/Downingtown, Pa.), who has batted .302 with five home runs and 40 RBI on foreign turf.
THE BOYS OF WINTER: Pitt is 20-11 (.645 winning percentage) in the month of February in the last five seasons and 38-34 (.528 winning percentage) overall under Jordano (1998-present). With a 4-2 record this season and with one game remaining this month, the Panthers stand just one win shy of tying its program record for most February wins (5), a total originally set in 2010 and last matched in 2013 when Pitt went 5-1 in six games against Wichita State and Wofford. The Panthers 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 17 of 21 career games in the month of February, recording four home runs and 23 RBI during that span. Dylan Wolsonovich (SO/Ford City, Pa.), on the other hand, is leading the charge during the opening month of the 2014 season with a .421 batting average (8-for-19).
ALL-AMERICAN HONORS FOR ROCHE: The National Collegiate Baseball Writers' Association (NCBWA) named Roche a 2014 Preseason First-Team All-American in December after he delivered 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. Through seven games this season, the slugging senior outfielder leads the team with two home runs and he is second in slugging percentage (.542). Roche owns a .329 batting average in 160 career games and he is currently tied for fifth on the program's all-time list in RBI (133) and he is 13th overall in hits (190).
WELCOME BACK, WOTHERSPOON: 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 he 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 (213) and innings pitched (258.2) and he is tied for fourth in wins (20). He is 2-0 with a 3.48 ERA this season, recording 11 strikeouts in 10.1 innings pitched.
PANTHER PROSPECTS: Boo Vazquez (JR/Youngstown, Ohio) and Adam Dian (JR/Gibsonia, Pa.) have been named to prospect watch lists by nationally accredited publications this season. Vazquez, a 38th round selection by the Colorado Rockies in 2012, was named the No. 67 prospect on Baseball America's top-100 list. The 6-foot-4, left-handed hitting junior was also listed as the No. 11 prospect in the ACC by Perfect Game. Dian, a junior transfer from Temple, was recognized by Perfect Game as the ACC's Top Newcomer in addition to being the No. 17 prospect in the conference. Vazquez currently leads Pitt in RBI (9), hits (8) and runs scored (6) and he is second in batting average (.320). Dian is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA thus far, allowing two earned runs on six hits and one walk through two innings out of the bullpen this season.
WOLSONOVICH'S NICHE: Wolsonovich has opened the 2014 season with a formidable display of offensive abilities, leading the Panthers in batting average (.421), on-base percentage (.522), slugging percentage (.579), hits (8) and doubles (3). Wolsonovich, who batted .263 with two home runs and 23 RBI in 2013, has recorded combinations of a hit, run or RBI in four of the last five games. He also enters this weekend on the heels of a three-game hitting streak. Wolsonovich went 6-for-13 (.462 batting average) with three runs and three RBI in last week's USC-Upstate Tournament, including a 4-for-4 performance in Pitt's 15-7 victory over Butler on Feb. 21.
ROOKIES ON A ROLL: A collection of freshmen and transfer players has played an essential role in the Panthers' early successes in 2014. On the mound, rookie T.J. Zeuch (Mason, Ohio) (0-1, 1.93 ERA) and Paris J.C. transfer Hobie Harris (JR/McKinney, Texas) (1-0, 2.45 ERA) have combined for 12.0 innings, 12 strikeouts and a 2.25 ERA. Standing at 6-foot-7, Zeuch currently owns a 5:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 9.64 strikeouts per nine innings ratio while eight of nine runs allowed have been unearned. Harris has held the opposition to a .077 batting average against through 7.1 frames. On Feb. 16 at Coastal Carolina, Harris picked up his first career win at Pitt when he tossed 4.1 innings out of the bullpen and converted his first career save when he tossed three shutout innings of no-hit relief, including five strikeouts, against USC-Upstate on Feb. 22. Shortstop Matt Johnson (JR/Plano, Texas) - also a Paris J.C. transfer - is batting .250 on the season and has managed to build a strong reputation in the field. South Mountain C.C. transfer Jordan Frabasilio (JR/Chandler, Ariz.) is batting .240 with one home run and three RBI while maintaining defensive duties at the hot corner. Freshman catcher Manny Pazos (FR/Miami, Fla.) owns a .304 on-base percentage with three runs scored and three RBI and he has supported Pitt at both catcher and shortstop as well.
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 the Baseball America Top-25 Poll - No. 1 Virginia, No. 2 Florida State, No. 6 North Carolina State, No. 11 Clemson, No. 14 Miami (FL) and No. 22 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. This season, Pitt is 2-1 against teams ranked in the preseason polls after winning a three-game set over No. 40 Coastal Carolina on Feb. 15-16. The Panthers' next game against a preseason top-40 team will be Saturday afternoon vs. East Carolina, which was slotted at No. 38.