May 10, 2012
PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh baseball team heads to South Orange, N.J. this weekend to play a three-game conference series against Seton Hall at Owen T. Carroll Field. Pitt, who defeated the Akron Zips at home on Tuesday in an 8-2 ball game, has a great measure of momentum working in its favor. The Panthers have won back-to-back conference series over Georgetown and Rutgers and have taken six of their last eight games played. Pitt is one game behind the Villanova Wildcats in the Big East standings and looks to continue its current run in the final stretch of the regular season to battle for the final spot in the conference’s playoff picture.
Game one of the three-game series will be played at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 11. The series concludes on Saturday, May 12 with a doubleheader scheduled for 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. The Panthers last played Seton Hall in 2010, when they scored 26 runs in three games to take the series win over the Pirates.
GAME 1: PITT—TBA vs. SHU—TBA
GAME 2: PITT—TBA vs. SHU—TBA
GAME 3: PITT—TBA vs. SHU—TBA
Pittsburgh Panthers (25-22, 8-13 Big East)
All throughout the year, head coach Joe Jordano has trusted and relied heavily upon his rotation of workhorse arms. Matt Iannazzo, Ethan Mildren, and Matt Wotherspoon have gone above and beyond what they have been asked to do on the mound, as each individually ranks among the Big East’s top-10 in innings pitched and strikeouts. As a whole, the Panthers’ pitching staff has shown great stamina and tremendous control. Pitt has walked the fewest batters (129) and has thrown the fewest wild pitches (28) in the conference this season. Such gradual categorical improvements have allowed for the 4.60 ERA that the team currently holds.
In last weekend’s series against Rutgers, senior southpaw Matt Iannazzo was tagged with a loss despite pitching seven innings and striking out five with just two earned runs. On the season, Iannazzo is 6-3 with a 4.27 ERA. In 78 innings, he has recorded 63 strikeouts and has walked 17 batters.
Ethan Mildren, who has allowed the eighth fewest bases on balls (14) in the conference, allowed two earned runs in eight innings of work in his start against the Scarlet Knights. Mildren is 5-4 with a 3.55 ERA and has 56 strikeouts in 78 2/3 innings. He has tossed three complete games this season as well, including a 6-0 shutout against Cincinnati on March 31.
Matt Wotherspoon pitched 7 2/3 innings against Rutgers on Sunday in a 4-3 victory, in which he received the winning decision for. He is 4-2 with a 4.60 ERA and has struck out 68 batters in 74 1/3 innings pitched (8.23 SO/9). Wotherspoon has held opponents to a .256 batting average against this season.
The Panthers are also one of the top hitting teams in the conference, as they are ranked fifth in batting average (.290), fourth in slugging percentage (.404), and fourth in on-base percentage (.382). Pitt’s power surge at the plate in recent weeks has been indicated by its top-five placement in all extra-base hit categories, including a tie for fifth in the Big East in home runs (23).
Rick Devereaux has been on fire lately and has raised his batting average by 24 points since a 0-2 performance against Ohio on May 1. On Tuesday, Devereaux went 3-5 with two RBI to improve his hitting streak to four. During his streak, he is 10-15 (.667) with five RBI. Devereaux leads the Panthers in batting average (.376), hits (73), home runs (7), RBI (53), total bases (110), and slugging percentage (.567), and he is second on the team in on-base percentage (.441). He is first in the conference in RBI, tied for first in hits, third in batting average and total bases, and fourth in slugging percentage. Devereaux is also in the nation’s top-15 in RBI, top-20 in RBI per game (1.13), and top-50 in hits.
Senior designated hitter Anthony Defabio is third in the conference in runs scored (49), fourth in walks (28), and fourth in on-base percentage (.464). Defabio is batting .329 with 16 doubles, two triples, four home runs, 28 RBI, and has the second best slugging percentage on the team (.521 SLG).
Since assuming a full-time role as Pitt’s leadoff hitter, center fielder Stephen Vranka has been a consistent run scorer and run producer at the plate. Vranka went 2-3 with a home run and two runs scored on Tuesday to raise his batting average to .290 on the year. Vranka is second on the team in runs (41) and is third in hits (53). He has 11 doubles, four triples, one home run, 14 RBI, and nine stolen bases this season.
Freshman catcher Elvin Soto enters the Seton Hall series coming off of a 3-4 performance against Akron. Soto is batting .268 with nine doubles, six home runs, and 34 RBI. Also delivering base hits in a timely manner has been sophomore right fielder Casey Roche. Roche is batting .311 with 12 doubles, two triples, and three home runs and is second on the team in RBI (38) and walks (26).
Sam Parente, who went 1-3 with 3 RBI against the Zips, is batting .317 with nine doubles, 20 RBI, and a .407 on-base percentage. Junior shortstop Evan Oswald has recorded 38 hits in 38 games started, and is batting .314 with 15 RBI, 19 walks, and a .422 on-base percentage.
Seton Hall Pirates (29-20, 13-8 Big East)
Seton Hall enters the weekend coming off of a series win over Georgetown and a 4-3 victory against St. Joseph’s on Tuesday. The Pirates, who are 17-5 at home, have won three of their last four games and eight of their last 10. As a team, Seton Hall is batting .266 with an 80% success rate in stolen base attempts. However, the Pirates have been more so recognized for their pitching this season, which ranks third in the Big East in ERA (3.70 ERA), third in strikeouts (367), and fifth in batting average against (.262 BAA).
Juniors Ryan Harvey and Jon Prosinski have a combined record of 8-1 against conference opponents this season, and have dominated the league for the better part of the season. Harvey, who is 5-3 with a 2.76 ERA, is third in the Big East with a .194 batting average against and has recorded 72 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings of work. Prosinski, who is tied for second in wins with seven, has a 3.22 ERA in 12 starts this season. He is also third in the conference in innings pitched (81) and has 63 strikeouts compared to just 12 walks.
Senior outfielder Will Walsh leads Seton Hall in batting average (.289), home runs (4), and slugging percentage (.449), and has 30 RBI and 12 stolen bases on the year. Behind him in the Pirates’ own respective home run chase is freshman first baseman Sal Annunziata, who is batting .273 with three home runs and 23 RBI.
Junior infielders Guiseppe Papaccio and Mike Genovese have also contributed greatly to the Seton Hall offense. Papaccio is batting .288 with a team-leading 55 hits. He has 13 doubles, one triple, two home runs, and 26 RBI this season. Genovese is batting .273 with 30 runs scored and 31 runs batted in.