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Panthers To Open Midweek Competition at Presbyterian

Hobie Harris tossed 4.1 shutout innings in relief at No. 17 North Carolina last weekend.

Hobie Harris tossed 4.1 shutout innings in relief at No. 17 North Carolina last weekend.

March 10, 2014

Pitt (5-7, 1-2 ACC) at Presbyterian (7-7-1, 0-0 Big South)
March 11, 2014 • Fluor Field at the West End • Greenville, S.C.
March 12, 2014 • Presbyterian College Baseball Complex • Clinton, S.C.

Tue: 7 p.m. | Wed: 3 p.m.

Live Stats: GoBlueHose.com
Radio
: BigSouthSports.com (Wednesday)

Twitter/Media Relations: @PittBaseballACC
Twitter/Coaching Staff
: @PITTBASEBALL

Series Notes: Pitt
Player Pages: Pitt

All-Time Record vs. Presbyterian: 1-0
Last Meeting
: March 9, 1992 | W, 10-4

PROBABLE PITCHING

Tuesday
: RHP Luke Curtis (JR/Philipsburg, Pa.) (0-0, 9.00 ERA) vs. LHP Brian Kehner (0-2, 5.68 ERA)
Wednesday
: RHP T.J. Zeuch (FR/Mason, Ohio) (0-1, 1.93 ERA) vs. TBA

SERIES INFORMATION

BLUE HOSE BREAKDOWN
: Pitt, which has posted an 80-68 record (.541 winning percentage) away from home since 2010, will take on Presbyterian in a two-game non-conference set to open its first slate of midweek competition for the 2014 season. The first game of the series will be played at Fluor Field on the West End, which is home to the Greenville Drive, a Single-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox organization. This week marks the second and third all-time meetings between the Panthers and Blue Hose, with Pitt holding a 1-0 advantage in the series. The last time the Panthers played Presbyterian was on March 9, 1992 in a 10-4 victory on neutral turf. Dating back to 1950, Pitt has gone 8-11 (.421 winning percentage) against Big South opponents, most recently taking two out of three games from Coastal Carolina on Feb. 15-16 in Conway, S.C. The Blue Hose, who went 24-32 (10-14, Big South) in 2013, have registered a 7-7-1 record (.500 winning percentage) through the first 15 games of the season, winning two straight contests against Northeastern (W, 4-3) and Maine (W, 12-5). Offensively, Presbyterian is led by Brad Zebedis, who tops the team in batting average (.373), on-base percentage (.464), hits (22) and runs scored (14). Zebedis is also tied for the team lead in RBI (14) with Cam McCrae, who is batting .368 on the year with three home runs and a .561 slugging percentage.

CHAPEL HILL CHALLENGE: The Panthers enter midweek play coming off of a series loss to No. 17 North Carolina last weekend, dropping a pair of games during a three-game set against the nationally ranked Tar Heels. Despite getting swept in the Saturday doubleheader, Pitt witnessed several impressive outings by the back-end of its starting rotation. Rhys Aldenhoven (SR/Victoria, Australia) (1-1, 2.78 ERA) struck out four batters and allowed only two runs over six innings of work in the second match-up of the series. Joseph Harvey (JR/Audobon, Pa.) (0-1, 5.28 ERA) put the Panthers in a favorable position Sunday afternoon by recording three strikeouts in 4.2 frames and Hobie Harris (JR/McKinney, Texas) (2-1, 1.50 ERA) closed the door in the 6-4 win, tossing 2.1 innings of no-hit relief. Pitt’s upset against North Carolina on March 9 marked its first ever league victory as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). It was also the first time the Panthers defeated a top-25 team on the road since April 17, 2003, when they downed No. 13 Notre Dame, 5-3, in South Bend, Ind.

NON-CONFERENCE? NO PROBLEM: Since the start of the 2008 season, Pitt has tallied a 106-62 record (.631 winning percentage) against non-conference opponents, including a 22-9 showing (.710 winning percentage) in 2013. 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. Pitt has also won nine consecutive non-conference three-game sets dating back to 2005, with five series resulting in sweeps. The Panthers, who totaled 7.9 runs per game against out-of-league opponents last season, are averaging 5.6 runs per game during non-conference play this year.

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK: Pitt officially joined the ACC on July 1, 2013 after spending 29 baseball seasons in the Big East. The Panthers are 55-99 (.357 winning percentage) all-time against current members of the ACC and 37-52 (.419 winning percentage) overall under head coach Joe Jordano (1998-present). The ACC has seen a total of nine programs make regional appearances since 2009, including eight with at least two appearances and six with at least 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). Five ACC programs are currently ranked in the ESPN/USA Today Top-25 Coaches’ Poll – No. 2 Florida State, No. 5 Virginia, No. 7 North Carolina State, No. 16 Clemson and No. 24 Miami (FL).

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 in Pittsburgh, Pa. 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 at least 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.

ALL-AMERICAN HONORS FOR ROCHE: The National Collegiate Baseball Writers’ Association (NCBWA) named Casey Roche (SR/Downingtown, Pa.) 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. In 2013, Roche garnered honors such as being named to the Rawlings/ABCA All-Region First Team as well as being named the NCBWA District I Player of the Year. Through 12 games this season, the slugging senior outfielder leads the team with two home runs and is tied for second with a .380 slugging percentage. Roche owns a .325 batting average in 163 career games and he is currently fifth on Pitt’s all-time list in RBI (136) and 13th overall in hits (196).

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, 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 with 12 RBI and Dian owns an 0-1 record with a 9.00 ERA thus far, allowing two earned runs on six hits and one walk through two frames out of the bullpen.

WOLSONOVICH’S NICHE: Wolsonovich has opened the 2014 season with a formidable display of offensive and defensive capabilities, leading the Panthers in batting average (.293), on-base percentage (.388) and slugging percentage (.390) and doubles (4). Wolsonovich, who batted .263 with two home runs and 23 RBI in 2013, enters this weekend having record a hit in six of his last eight games. During the USC-Upstate Tournament on Feb. 21-23, Wolsonovich went 6-for-13 (.462 batting average) with three runs and three RBI, including a 4-for-4 performance in Pitt’s 15-7 victory over Butler.

POWER OF THE ‘PEN: Pitt’s core of relievers has been one of the most successful units of the 2014 season. In the past six games, the Panthers’ bullpen has registered a 2.04 ERA, allowing just four earned runs over 17.2 innings of work. More specifically, it posted a 1.04 ERA last weekend against nationally ranked North Carolina after limiting the Tar Heels to just one run during 8.2 frames. Harris has proved to be the stalwart in the late innings, owning a 2-1 record and 1.50 ERA on the season. Six of Harris’ relief appearances have lasted more than two innings and three have lasted more than three frames, with the longest outing (4.1 IP) comes on Feb. 16 at Coastal Carolina. On Feb. 22 against USC-Upstate, Harris tossed three shutout innings of no-hit relief while striking out five batters. He also pitched 4.1 shutout innings against North Carolina last weekend, including 2.1 innings of no-hit baseball on March 9 in a 6-4 victory.