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Pitt beats Louisville in Big East tourney

| Wednesday, May 25, 2011

CLEARWATER, Fla. — In the scramble for a 10 a.m. first pitch Wednesday, Pitt catcher Kevan Smith couldn't find his pants or cleats. So, he found a larger pair of pants, wearing them high on his hips, and borrowed a pitcher's cleats, smaller than his own.

He'll wear the same uncomfortable ensemble today after he hit two solo home runs yesterday to spark third-seeded Pitt to a 7-2 win over sixth-seeded Louisville in the first round at Bright House Field.

"I didn't feel comfortable today. It was all out of whack," said Smith, who was trying to leg out a double in the first inning when the umpire ruled his shot to left field was a homer. "I'll wear the same stuff. Ballplayers are superstitious. But my feet are killing me."

Home run trots can help ease that — he and David Chester hit solo shots on consecutive pitches in the third inning, his 10th and Chester's Big East-best 15th of the season.

Louisville starter Derek Self (3-3) hadn't allowed a home run this season in 472/3 innings against Big East teams. Then again, he hadn't faced Pitt (33-21).

"I feel like this team is built for a tournament team. We're finally starting to click in the lineup, and you can kind of see we went off a little bit," Smith said. "Their pitcher Self is a great pitcher, had a 1-point-something ERA, and we kind of got to him. That boosts our confidence as a team, gives us confidence that we can win this thing."

The home runs staked lefty Matt Iannazzo (8-3) to a 4-0 lead after three innings, and he helped the Panthers by going the distance, taking a shutout into the eighth inning against the Cardinals (29-28). He'll be available to go again in Sunday's championship game, should the Panthers keep winning.

"I couldn't have done it without my defense. I think I had only four strikeouts," said Iannazzo, who got five assists each from third baseman Phil Konieczny and shortstop Evan Oswald. "My left side of my defense played really well."

Pitt has momentum and fresh arms entering today's game against second-seeded St. John's, an 8-3 winner over No. 7 seed Cincinnati. St. John's (33-18) swept Pitt in three games this season.

Panther coach Joe Jordano said he'll start a right-hander Thursday — either senior Corey Baker (5-3, 5.14 ERA) or freshman Ethan Mildren (4-5, 4.19).

No. 5 Seton Hall 10, No. 4 West Virginia 4 — The Mountaineers gave up eight runs combined in the first three innings and lost in the first round.

Matt Malloy, Chris Rasky, Dan Dibartolomeo, Brady Wilson and Mark Dvoroznak each had two hits for West Virginia.

Mountaineers starter Marshall Thompson allowed fours run and three hits in 12/3 innings.

West Virginia will face either No. 1 seed Connecticut or No. 8 Notre Dame in the second round.

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