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Pitt Looks to Continue Success Against Non-Conference Opponents




April 16, 2012

PITTSBURGH - The Pitt baseball team will play non-conference games on back-to-back days for the second consecutive week, as the Panthers will travel to play Kent State on Tuesday and will host Akron on Wednesday.

Pitt is coming off a 3-2 week in which they posted non-conference wins over Akron and Penn State and a victory in the opener against Big-East leading USF. The Bulls took the final two games of the series, both one-run losses for the Panthers.

Matt Wotherspoon was outstanding in a 2-1 win over USF on Friday, out-dueling one of the top pitchers in the conference, Andrew Barbosa. The Panthers offense had a great game in the series finale, despite the loss. Anthony Defabio went yard twice, while Derik Wilson added on homer. Freshman Elvin Soto had possibly the best game of his short college career, reaching base in all six of his plate appearances.

Two pitchers will be making their first career starts for the Panthers this week. Freshman Luke Novosel will take the mound against Kent State and Dave Yakopec will be the starter against Akron.

 

Pitt (17-17) at Kent State (20-15), 3 p.m.

Probable Pitchers: Pitt (Luke Novosel 1-0, 3.63 ERA) vs. Kent State (Ryan Mace 1-3, 5.06 ERA)

This will be the second of three games between Pitt and Kent State this season. Sam Parente had three hits and Soto drove in three runs to lead the Panthers to a 6-5 win in the first meeting, on March 28 at Charles L. Cost Field. Batting in the eighth spot, Soto hit a three-run home run to right field in the third inning.


 

 

The Golden Flashes were also led by a batter at the bottom of the lineup in a game they nearly came back to win. Derek Toadvine had a successful day batting ninth, tallying three hits and scoring two runs. Jason Bagoly hit a solo homer in the eighth inning to cut the lead to one run.

The Panthers enter this week with four batters batting over .300. Despite just one RBI last week, Rick Devereaux still leads the conference in RBI with 40 and is batting an impressive .370. Anthony Defabio is right behind him at .358 and leads the league in OBP at .506. Sam Parente and Casey Roche are both batting .325.

Kent State is a tough non-conference opponent for Pitt and could prove to be a handful for the pitching staff. The Golden Flashes have a team batting average of .306, led by Nick Hamilton (.434), Evan Campbell (.386) and George Roberts (.375). They are also a threat to hit the long ball at any time, as evident by their 24 home runs.

 

Akron (14-21) at Pitt (17-17), 3 p.m.

Probable Pitchers: Akron (TBA) vs. Dave Yakopec (0-0, 4.70 ERA)

Pitt is 7-1 in its last eight non-conference games and included in that stretch was a win at Akron. For the second time in a week the Zips will get a Panther pitcher making his first career start. Last week, J.R. Leonardi made his starting debut and notched a win, highlighted by strikeouts of the first five batters.

This will be the rubber match between the two teams as the Zips won the opener early in the season. That game, which was played in Port Charlotte, Fla. as part of the Snowbird Classic, saw the Panthers get out to a big deficit early.

Yakopec is familiar with the Akron lineup. This will be his fifth appearance of the season and his third against the Zips. In 5.2 innings of work against them, he has given up three earned runs. He picked up his first career save in Pitt's win over Akron last week, pitching the final 3.2 innings.