April 29, 2010
Fresh off its series sweep against rival West Virginia, the University of Pittsburgh baseball team will square off in a battle for first place supremacy in the Big East standings, hosting the University of Connecticut this weekend in a three-game series at Trees Field.
The Panthers, ranked 24th in the nation, enter the game with a 30-10 overall record and a 12-3 mark in Big East Conference action. Pitt has won six straight Big East games with series sweeps over Villanova and West Virginia the last two weekends respectively.
The Huskies enter the weekend coming off a 7-3 loss to Central Connecticut State, snapping the nation’s longest winning streak at 22 games. Connecticut dropped its first two Big East Conference games of the year to Louisville back in late March and has been on a terror ever since, having won 13 straight games, including a 7-2 mark on the road.
Pitt junior third baseman Joe Leonard will look to continue to lead the most explosive offense in the Big East after earning national accolades for his performance last week. Leonard was named to the College Baseball Foundation’s National All-Star Lineup after batting .640 (16-for-25) over a five-game span, including three doubles, a triple, three home runs, 12 RBI and nine runs scored.
Leonard leads the Big East in nearly every offensive category, including batting (.455), hits (80), RBI (56), doubles (19) and total bases (126) and ranks second in on-base percentage (.513) and third in slugging (.716).
UConn pitchers own the league’s lowest staff ERA, checking in at 3.67. Matt Barnes (6-0) leads the team in wins and is one of five pitchers with at least four wins on the year. The Panthers are led by a trio of pitchers who have a combined 20-2 record. Corey Baker (9-1, 4.40 ERA) will take the mound for game one of Saturday’s doubleheader while Matt Iannazzo (7-1, 3.23 ERA) will throw game two. Nate Hood (4-0, 3.26 ERA) should get the starting nod in Sunday’s series finale.
The Panthers and Huskies will open up series play with a Saturday, May 1 afternoon doubleheader. First pitch for game one will come at 3 p.m. with game two starting approximately one-half hour following the conclusion of the first game. Sunday’s finale is slated for a noon start at Trees Field.
Pitt’s doubleheader on Saturday will feature a live audio broadcast through www.pittsburghpanthers.com.