Pitt Game Notes
PITTSBURGH – The University of Pittsburgh baseball team will travel to Kent, Ohio Tuesday afternoon in its first mid-week game of the season, facing the Golden Flashes of Kent State at Schoonover Stadium.
First pitch is set for 4 p.m. as the game will be the first of a home-and-home scheduled for the 2017 season. The Golden Flashes will visit the Panthers April 19.
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Pitt (8-9, 1-5 ACC) is coming off a long weekend of action at Charles L. Cost Field as the Panthers took on ACC rival Notre Dame. The two teams played a pair of extra-inning games in Sunday’s doubleheader as the Panthers captured their first ACC victory of the year in a 2-1 walk-off victory in 12 innings. Notre Dame would win the series with a single game win on Friday and a victory in the first game of the doubleheader.
Pitt’s pitchers have dominated to open the season as the team’s ERA of 3.29 ranks fourth in the ACC and 41st in the nation. Freshman Dan Hammer is expected to get the start on the bump for the Panthers, making his third start of the season and first since a 9-5 loss to USC Upstate on March 4. Hammer brings a mark of 0-1 and an ERA of 6.23 into the outing. The hard-throwing righty has pitched 13.0 innings, allowing nine earned runs off 13 hits and six walks, adding 13 strikeouts.
Offensively, the Panthers are led by first baseman Caleb Parry, who is hitting a team-best .292. Parry’s 10 RBIs are tied for the most on the squad with teammate Nick Banman. Senior shortstop P.J. DeMeo leads the team with a .441 slugging percentage and is pacing the squad with nine extra base hits.
SCOUTING KENT STATE
Kent State (11-6, 0-0 MAC) enters the contest after a series win over Western Carolina in Cullowhee, N.C. After dropping the first game of the series the Golden Flashes stormed back for a pair of wins on the road.
The game will be the first of the season at Schoonover Stadium as Kent State’s scheduled contests with Western Illinois on March 14-15 were cancelled due to inclement weather.
Robert Zeigler is expected to get the start for the Golden Flashes on the bump as the redshirt junior righty will get his first start of the season. Zeigler enters the game with a mark of 0-0 and a 2.89 ERA having tossed 9.1 innings in relief so far this season. He has surrendered three earned runs off 10 hits and five walks, striking out six.
Offensively, the Golden Flashes have been a powerhouse, boasting a .304 team average with five starters hitting at .300 or above. Luke Burch leads the way with a mark of .403, having started all 17 games. He boasts a team-leading .681 slugging percentage and a .463 on base percentage with 10 RBIs and 12 extra base hits. Tim Dalporto leads Kent State in RBIs with 13, smacking a .348 clip with a .420 slugging percentage, .387 on base percentage and five extra base hits.
SERIES WITH KENT STATE
This will be the 64th all-time meeting between the two squads in a series dating back to the 1951 season. Kent State holds a 36-27 advantage over the Panthers, however Pitt has won three of the last five including a season sweep in 2016.
In the two meetings between the programs last season, Pitt earned a 9-4 victory on the road and a 13-5 decision at home. Kent State’s last win came on April 14, 2015 as it captured a 1-0 decision at Charles L. Cost Field.
The Panthers suffered a tough blow at Historic Dodgertown as an injury to shortstop David Yanni will mean the shortstop will be out indefinitely. In addition to commanding the infield, Yanni was one of the only returning position players with significant starting experience as the sophomore was a consistent part of the 2016 defense at second base.
In six starts this season, Yanni hit .273 with five RBIs, drawing four walks and smacking one double.
Both Jacob Wright and Kaylor Kulina bring in three-game hit streaks, the longest active streaks on the Panther roster. Caleb Parry boasts a two-game mark and had the longest streak of the season, at seven games, which was snapped in the series opener against Notre Dame. Nico Popa boasted a six-game mark earlier this season, while Nick Banman, Frank Maldonado, Wright and P.J. DeMeo each recorded four-game marks.
Wright also boasts the longest current reached-base streak, sitting at five games. Banman, Kulina and Yaya Chentouf each have four-game marks, while Maldonado and DeMeo sit at three. Parry’s mark of 14 games was the longest of the season for any Panther, while Maldonado saw an 11-game mark snapped earlier this season.
FREURE OFF TO A FURY
Freshman reliever RJ Freure has been one of the best out of the bullpen for the Panthers this season as the Canadian boasts a record of 3-1 and an impressive 1.50 ERA. He’s tossed 18.0 innings of work, recording a bullpen-leading 24 strikeouts, surrendering just three earned runs off of 11 hits and a measly five walks.
The Panthers will return home for another ACC weekend, hosting Virginia Tech in a three-game tilt March 24-26. West Virginia will visit Charles L. Cost Field the following Tuesday in the first of a home-and-home.
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