June 11, 2012
PITTSBURGH – The University of Pittsburgh baseball team has reason to be optimistic following the 2012 season. Despite losing a program record six players to the MLB draft, the Panthers restocked with some talented young players and qualified for their fourth consecutive postseason tournament.
The season included some great individual performances and memorable moments, and finished with the exit of a great senior class. The following is a Q&A with head coach Joe Jordano, as well as a look back at some of the season highlights...
COACH JORDANO Q&A
What are your overall thoughts on the year?
It was one of the most interesting years that I have ever coached. We were in so many ball games with an opportunity to win quite a few. I believe that some of our youth and inexperience contributed to some of those tough losses. But there is no question that we gained valuable experience in the process as well as learning some things about how we play the game. This process will bode well for us in the future.
Did you meet your expectations?
In a word, No. Our expectation is to win a conference championship. I was pleased how hard we played down the stretch and made the conference tournament. Again, with 17 losses by a total of 21 runs, we were competitive in every game. At the end of the day though, we want to win, period.
How does the future look as of today?
I am very happy where we are today moving forward. We are adding three big arms to our staff as well as some very solid position players. We need to improve on our consistency and depth, but as I said earlier, our freshmen did a solid job for us this year. THey gained experience and I expect them to naturally improve as sophomores. We are continuing our recruiting process to solidify our lineup and staff for next season. We never rest. Even more so, our 2014 class is very, very talented. As we begin the transition to the ACC, it is imperative we secure players that match that level of play. I believe we not only have those players but are attracting that caliber of player as well.
Any major changes in the works for this fall?
I believe strongly that each year, it is my responsibility to critically analyze all aspects of the program. That process is underway and my staff and I are confident that the changes we will make in certain areas will prepare us to be successful, both on and off the field.
Three Pitt Players Earn All-Conference
It was a small senior class of just three players, but Rick Devereaux, Matt Iannazzo and Anthony Defabio were three of the team’s most productive players all season long. All three were recognized for their great seasons, with Devereaux earning All-Big East First Team honors and Iannazzo and DeFabio being named to the Third Team.
Fourth-Straight Postseason Appearance
Pitt earned its fourth straight postseason appearance with a solid second half showing in the conference schedule. A win over nationally-ranked and NCAA qualifier Louisville in the second game of the final series proved to be the difference as the Panthers went on to win a three-way tie for the final spot in the Big East Tournament.
Jordano Hits Multiple Milestones
In his 15th season at Pitt and 25th season overall as a head coach, Joe Jordano reached numerous milestone during the season and also etched his name in the Pitt baseball record book.
400th win at Pitt – In a day that included two games at two different sites, Pitt held on for an exciting 9-8 win over Michigan at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge. Derik Wilson helped the Panthers erase a three-run deficit with a go-ahead RBI single in the top of the ninth inning and freshman closer Tanner Wilt pitched a perfect bottom half of the ninth for his first career save.
Pitt’s all-time wins leader – Just two weeks after his 400th win at Pitt, Jordano became the program’s all-time leader in wins, and did it against a perennial power in Coastal Carolina. Jordano passed Bobby Lewis for the record, winning for the 403rd time since arriving to Pitt in 1998. Iannazzo pitched a gem to lead the Panthers to a 3-1 win over the Chanticleers, who would conclude the regular season with their seventh straight Big South title.
700th career win – Jordano hit yet another milestone in Pitt’s 3-2 win over Akron on April 18. The 700th win of Jordano’s career came in dramatic fashion as Casey Roche hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Iannazzo Break’s Pitt Wins Record
Iannazzo wrapped up one of the most successful pitching careers in Pitt history this year, highlighted by a 4-2 win over Hartford in the team’s home opener. With that win, he passed former teammate Corey Baker as the program’s all-time leader in wins at Pitt. He ended his four years with the Panthers with an impressive record of 28-12, losing back-to-back starts just once in his entire career.
Wotherspoon Strikes Out 13 Batters
Sophomore Matt Wotherspoon had a breakout game early in the season, striking out 13 batters in a complete game performance to lead Pitt past Michigan State 3-1. He was named to the Big East Weekly Honor Roll for his outstanding performance.
Mildren Pitches 22 Consecutive Scoreless Innings
Despite not receiving the recognition, Ethan Mildren certainly turned in a season worthy of all-conference status. He finished the year with the team’s best ERA at 3.76 and pitched four complete games. Both the low ERA and his number of complete games were aided by a great stretch during the middle of the season when he went the distance in three consecutive starts. During that stretch, he had a streak of 22 consecutive scoreless innings, including a shutout win over Cincinnati. He was named the Big East Pitcher of the Week following the series with the Bearcats.
Soto’s Go-Ahead Home Run in Extra Innings
Freshman Elvin Soto finished tied for the team lead with seven home runs, including a two home run game in a win over Wofford and a solo shot in his first ever postseason game. But, the most memorable of his homers lifted the team to its first conference win of the season. His solo shot in the top of the 11th inning gave the Panthers a 10-9 win over Cincinnati.
DeFabio Named Second Team Academic All-America
DeFabio made his mark on and off the field at Pitt. Thanks to his combination of success during the season and his hard work academically, he was named First Team Academic All-District and Second Team Academic All-America. The honor completed a rare and impressive feat for the Panthers, giving the team an Academic All-America selection for the second straight year.
Leblanc Named Perfect Game All-American
AROUND THE DIAMOND: Season Wrap Up with Coach Jordano
Four Land on All-ACC Academic Teams
Leblanc Garners ABCA All-Region Recognition
Leblanc Named NCBWA All-American
Leblanc Named Finalist for Brooks Wallace Award