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Pitt opens Big East Tourney versus Rutgers

The third-seeded Pitt baseball team will meet sixth-seeded Rutgers at 10 a.m. Wednesday in a first-round game of the Big East Conference Tournament in Clearwater, Fla.

The Panthers (37-16, 18-8 Big East) will take on the Scarlet Knights (28-24, 15-12 Big East) for the second time in tournament history. Pitt was 1-2 against Rutgers this season on the road and is 10-26 in the all-time series history.

West Virginia, with two victories over Villanova over the weekend and Louisville's sweep of Notre Dame, squeezed into the field as the tournament's eighth and final seed. The Mountaineers will opening against top-seeded Louisville at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

West Virginia won in dramatic fashion Saturday, beating Villanova, 3-2, on catcher Kevin Griffin's three-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs.

The week will get under way Tuesday with opening ceremonies, an awards presentation and a home run derby. David Chester (15 home runs, 63 RBI, .342 average) will represent Pitt; Jedd Gyorko (17 home runs, 53 RBI, .377 average) will represent West Virginia.

» Pitt third baseman Joe Leonard and Penn State catcher Ben Heath are among 25 semifinalists for the Dick Howser Trophy, given to college baseball's top player.

Leonard, a Connellsville High School product, was leading the Big East in batting average (.435) and set a school record for hits in a season this year. He also holds the career record at Pitt for saves.

Heath established himself as Penn State's leader in home runs for a season with 19.

The award is presented in honor of the former Florida State All-American and major-league player and manager who died of brain cancer in 1987.

Meanwhile, Heath also is up for the Johnny Bench Award as the nation's top catcher. He survived the latest cut and is among 16 players still in the running from an original list of 80. The award is sponsored by the Wichita (Kan.) Sports Commission.

College basketball

Former University of Vermont assistant basketball coach Matt Hahn will be joining Andrew Toole's coaching staff at Robert Morris. Hahn, 31, leaves Vermont after five seasons. He is the son of former LaSalle coach and current West Virginia assistant Billy Hahn.

"He's a good young coach," Toole said. "He is a good teacher of fundamentals and a good recruiter."

Hahn was a recruiting coordinator and scheduler at Vermont.

Toole said he is still looking to fill another coaching position.

Football

Jeff Simmons, who has spent the past four seasons as a part-time wide receivers coach at Carnegie Mellon, was promoted to full-time assistant. His primary responsibilities will include coaching the Division III Tartans' running backs.

Simmons, a former quarterback at Division II Slippery Rock, previously has served as an assistant coach at the high school level at Seneca Valley, Gateway and Shaler.

He also played at Kiski Prep, where his grandfather, former CMU coach Chuck Klausing, served as coach and won the Interscholastic Prep School League championship during Simmons' senior season.

Rowing

The Mercyhurst women's varsity eight received an at-large bid to the 2010 NCAA Rowing Championships at the Sacramento (Calif.) State Aquatic Center from Friday through Sunday.

The Lakers are one of two varsity eight at-large bids and four teams comprised of an eight-boat and a four-boat selected to the Division II championship.

Mercyhurst is ranked No. 2 nationally and finished as runner-up to Western Washington in last season's national event. The Lakers had entered the race ranked No. 1.

Senior All-America Leah Niecgorski will make her third consecutive appearance with the Mercyhurst varsity eight at the national championship.

Wrestling

Frank Martellotti, who won a PIAA championship at Shady Side Academy in 2007, signed a letter-of-intent to attend Penn State. Martellotti, a 130-pounder, is a three-time WPIAL champion with a career high school record of 168-21.

» Division II Pitt-Johnstown signed six former WPIAL wrestlers to letters-of-intent: Zach Baker (heavyweight, Penn-Trafford); Justin Harold (145 pounds, Kiski Area); Jack Hnath (152, Mt. Lebanon); Anthony Napoleone (125, Moon); Dominic Pietropaolo (140, Plum); Eric Shaffer (189, Latrobe); and Ryan Walters (152, Latrobe).

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