Pitt baseball team braces for move to ACC
Without trying to sound boastful, Pitt baseball coach Joe Jordano admits, “I really think we would have been one of the top three teams in the Big East (this season).”
That's nice, but it's also history Pitt prefers to see in its rearview mirror.
Pitt enters its first ACC baseball season understanding what awaits them.
“A dramatic difference in the caliber of competition,” Jordano said.
Weather permitting, the season begins Friday, Saturday and Sunday with a three-game series against Coastal Carolina in Florence and Myrtle Beach, S.C. The first ACC series is March 7-9 at North Carolina.
Baseball America's preseason top 20 includes six ACC schools, led by No. 1 Virginia. The others are No. 5 North Carolina State, No. 6 Florida State, No. 13 Clemson, No. 16 Miami and No. 17 North Carolina.
“The simplest way to put it is this is the big leagues of college baseball,” Jordano said. “This is as good as it gets.”
Pitt returns five of its top seven hitters and two of its three best starting pitchers from a team that won a school-record 42 games last year (42-17, 18-6 in the Big East). Nonetheless, Pitt was picked last in the ACC Coastal Division by conference coaches.
“I love this team,” Jordano said. “This team is working harder than any I have ever had. But there are a lot of players that we recruited on this team that were recruited to compete in the Big East.
“It will take a couple of recruiting cycles to complete a full roster of ACC players.”
For the first time in Jordano's 17 seasons at Pitt, the program is fully funded with 11.7 scholarships. Plus, Pitt upgraded its facilities three years ago with construction of Charles L. Cost Field on the $28 million Petersen Sports Complex on campus.
“We are headed in the right direction,” Jordano said. “Our facility is very nice. But when you compare it to some of the facilities that exist in this conference, there is a ways to go.”
Jordano said some ACC games draw crowds of 5,000-6,000 to venues that are “as nice as any minor league facility we would ever go to.”
ACC membership allows Pitt to recruit players from some of the most fertile regions in the U.S. Freshman catcher Manny Pazos of Miami is competing for the starting job with freshman Caleb Parry of Riverside, Calif. Only six of Pitt's 33 players are from the WPIAL.
“It expanded our recruiting reach,” Jordano said. “But with that goes a much more competitive environment. You can't make mistakes.”
Among the returning players are five .300 hitters, led by right fielder and preseason All-American Casey Roche, who hit .339 with nine home runs and 65 RBIs last season.
Other returning starters are left fielder Boo Vazquez (.337), rated the 67th-best hitter in the nation by Baseball America; center fielder Stephen Vranka, a Gateway graduate (.318); second baseman Dylan Wolsonovich of Ford City (.940 fielding percentage); first baseman Eric Hess (.305); and designated hitter Steven Shelinsky (.311, with 12 home runs).
Starting pitcher Matt Wotherspoon (9-3, 3.70 ERA) returned for his senior season after getting drafted in the 20th round by the Detroit Tigers.
“If he can be a little more efficient with his pitchers, he can be something pretty special,” Jordano said.
The No. 2 starter is Australian Rhys Aldenhoven, who was 8-1 with a 2.76 ERA last season after joining the team from Hill College in Hillsboro, Texas.
“Wherever they are,” Jordano said, “we'll find them.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Offense continues to click as Panthers hold off Kent State, 85-76
- Pitt notebook: Offensive struggles continue
- Gilbert, son of ex-Pitt football standout, commits to Panthers
- Pitt falls flat in finale loss to Miami
- District college notebook: Pair of Pitt wrestlers win titles at Keystone Classic
- Pitt notebook: Boyd undecided about leaving early for NFL
- Pitt’s Young taking a pass, improving his all-around game
- Emotional send-off awaits Pitt seniors
- Bowl destination is at stake for Pitt football in regular-season finale
- Miami’s Scott has improved program since replacing Golden
- Pitt’s Dixon monitoring minutes early in season