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Duquesne transfer a perfect fit at Pitt

| Friday, March 18, 2011

Plum graduate Anthony Defabio was starting to settle into his role as a Division I college baseball player when he had the turf pulled out from under him in January 2010.

Duquesne shocked Defabio and his teammates when the school announced it was cutting its program after the season. That left Defabio with a tough decision: End his baseball career by staying at Duquesne, which planned to honor his partial scholarship, or transfer?

The former Plum standout decided to give up his scholarship and become a walk-on at Pitt. So far, the move has been a perfect fit for the stocky junior catcher/third baseman. Defabio is hitting .257 (9 for 35) with three doubles and 11 RBI in 10 games for the Panthers (8-5).

"Last January, we were all in disbelief," he said. "I was fortunate to move over to Pitt. It's been a pretty easy transition so far. All the coaches have adopted me well, as well as the players. ... It's been enjoyable."

Even though he surrendered his partial scholarship at Duquesne, Defabio said his family is paying about the same amount of money for him to attend Pitt. With that in mind, his decision came down to how much he wanted to continue playing.

"I considered staying at Duquesne and focusing on school, but I wanted an opportunity to play," said Defabio, a finance major.

He entered a challenging situation. Senior catcher Kevan Smith was named to the All-Big East first team last season, and the Panthers also returned a few experienced infielders to use at third base. However, Smith suffered a knee injury in the season opener Feb. 18 and has been relegated to designated-hitter duty for now, so Defabio stepped in behind the plate.

"(Defabio) has done an excellent job for us," coach Joe Jordano said. "Once our starter returns, Anthony will continue to do some catching, but he is versatile enough to play other positions, and he can hit. He is a valuable piece of this team."

Last season at Duquesne, Defabio split time between catcher and third base and batted .302 with six home runs, 30 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 49 games.

Two other local players will be throwing to Defabio this season. Redshirt junior right-hander Dave Kaye (Riverview) and senior lefty Cole Taylor (Burrell) are expected to contribute this season. Taylor has a 5.62 ERA in five relief appearances. Kaye is making a comeback after undergoing Tommy John surgery and missing the 2010 season. He returned Wednesday, starting against Kent State, and took the loss after lasting one inning.

Additional Information:

On the diamond

Local graduates playing Division I college baseball this season:

Bret Basilone, Fr. OF (Springdale): Notre Dame

Anthony Defabio, Jr. C/3B (Plum): Pitt

Mike Devine, Jr. P (Springdale): VMI

Tim Giel, So. P (Shady Side Academy): Columbia

David Kaye, Jr. P (Riverview): Pitt

Nic Manuppelli, Fr. P (Plum): Youngstown State

Scott McGough, Jr. P (Plum): Oregon

Chris Murphy, Sr. OF (Fox Chapel): Southern Illinois

Ryan Siegel, Fr. OF (Freeport): Coastal Carolina

Cole Taylor, Sr. P (Burrell): Pitt

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