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March 21, 2013

PITTSBURGH--The University of Pittsburgh baseball team (12-6) travels to Queens, N.Y. this weekend for a three-game set against defending Big East Champion St. John's (7-11) scheduled for March 22-24 at Jack Kaiser Stadium. The conference-opening series will be streamed to a national audience live on ESPN3.

Pitt is coming off of a 10-game home stand in which it posted eight wins, scoring six or more runs in seven contests and limiting opponents to three or fewer runs in five. The Panthers' 12-6 start through the first 18 games of the year matches their start put together two seasons ago when the team finished with a 33-23 record.

The last time Pitt faced the Red Storm was in the second round of the 2011 Big East Tournament, with St. John's taking a 6-4 win and later advancing to the title game. Last season, the Red Storm competed in their first ever NCAA Super Regional after being crowned the conference's regular season and tournament champions.

The Panthers have remained among the Big East's top ranks in offensive production since the start of the 2013 season. Pitt leads the conference in on-base percentage (.415), slugging percentage (.474), runs (142), home runs (18), and total bases (299). The Panthers are also second in batting average (.311), walks (88), and triples (11) and third overall in hits (196).

Pitt's weekend rotation, which has been backed by a lineup that features seven players with .300-plus batting averages (minimum of 20 plate appearances), three players with three or more home runs, and four players with at least 15 RBI, has excelled through the first third of the regular season as well. Ethan Mildren (JR/Hopwood, Pa.), Matt Wotherspoon (JR/Mountain Top, Pa.), and Rhys Aldenhoven (JR/Victoria, Australia) have each earned three wins and have kept their earned run averages below 4.00.

Frank Schwindel, recently awarded Big East Player of the Week honors, paces St. John's at the plate with a .338 batting average, two home runs, and a team-leading 17 RBI. Martin Kelly tops the Red Storm's offense with a .343 batting average and has recorded eight doubles and 10 RBI with 11 runs scored on the season.

James Lomangino, St. John's' ace and probable starting pitcher for Friday's contest, owns a 4.21 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 25.2 innings of work while Thomas Hackimer, third in the conference in relief appearances (10), carries the Red Storm's bullpen with three saves and a 1.23 ERA.

GAME 1: FRIDAY, MARCH 22, 3 p.m. EST
PITT: RHP Ethan Mildren (3-1, 3.41 ERA)

SJU: RHP James Lomangino (0-2, 4.21 ERA)

PITT: RHP Matt Wotherspoon (3-1, 3.93 ERA)

SJU: LHP Sean Hagan (1-3, 7.76 ERA)

GAME 3: SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 12 p.m. EST
PITT: RHP Rhys Aldenhoven (3-0, 3.58 ERA)

SJU: LHP Ryan McCormick (2-2, 5.01 ERA)

Pitt Baseball Travels to St. John's to Open Big East Schedule

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