Pitt Hosts Defending National Champ, No. 20 Virginia Saturday/Sunday

PITTSBURGH – The University of Pittsburgh baseball team will play host to the 20th-ranked Virginia Cavaliers this weekend for a three game series at Charles L. Cost Field.

(Photo courtesy of Pitt Athletics)

The Cavaliers took home the National Championship last year over Vanderbilt, after being defeated by the same SEC-combatant the year prior.

Pitt enters the series equipped with a six game winning streak and has come away victorious in eight of its last nine contests. After time adjustments to the doubleheader due to conflicting events in the area, first pitch for Saturday is scheduled for 1 p.m. The series will conclude on Sunday with a 1 p.m. tilt.


· The first 100 fans to Saturday’s doubleheader will receive a free Pitt baseball cell phone wallet
· Saturday’s game will also continue the weekly “Saturday for a Cause” program, as the Panthers welcome Urban Impact
· UMPC LiveWire host Casey Garrow will be on hand Saturday as fans are invited to take part in the in-game entertainment for their chance to win Pitt prizes
· Little League Sunday will cap the series as kids will be invited to run the bases and select players will be on hand for autographs at the conclusion of the game


· Pitt (21-14-0, 8-9-0 ACC) returns to a diamond following a series sweep of Miami (OH) at home, outscoring the RedHawks 17-10 over the three-game series and has claimed a win in six straight
· Pitt is No. 33 in the RPI, while Virginia occupies the 29th spot in the RPI
· No. 20 Virginia (27-17-0, 11-10-0 ACC) took two-of-three contests on the road against then top-ranked Miami and, in a Wednesday mid-week battle, the Cavaliers beat Old Dominion 8-4
· Virginia has appeared in two straight College World Series finals and, after falling in 2014, won in 2015
· The Cavaliers come to Pittsburgh in the midst of an eight-game road swing, their longest since 1999


· The Cavaliers feature 10 players with double-digit RBIs this season
· Junior Matt Thaiss has paced the team offensively, hitting a team-leading .371 while also carrying the team with seven home runs and 43 RBIs
· Sophomore Pavin Smith leads the team with 44 RBIs.
· Virginia’s pitching staff has been led by sophomore southpaw Adam Haseley and junior righty Connor Jones, Haseley is 6-2 on the year with a 1.56 ERA, while Jones possesses a record of 8-1 with a 2.08 ERA


· The Panthers are 3-9 versus Virginia in program history
· Last season at a neutral site of Cary, N.C., the Panthers took the first game of the series 1-0 before dropping the subsequent two contests
· In Pitt’s inaugural ACC season, they also took one of three games versus the Cavaliers at home


· Charles Leblanc brings a nine-game hit streak into the weekend, pacing the Panther offense
· Both Leblanc and Nick Yarnall have each recorded 10-game hit streaks this year, the highest of any Panther
· Leblanc also has the highest on-base streak for Pitt, checking in a 10 straight, while Aaron Schnurbusch and Jacob Wright aren’t far behind at seven and six, respectively
· Yarnall and Schnurbusch have put together the longest reached-base streaks of the year for Pitt, with 13 consecutive


· The Panthers check in at No. 33 in the latest RPI rankings, having completed one of the toughest schedules to open the season
· Pitt has knocked off four nationally-ranked opponents with wins over UNC, Florida State, Clemson and Georgia Tech
· The four wins over nationally-ranked foes are the most since Pitt claimed six in 2014, competing in its first season as a member of the ACC


· RHP T.J. Zeuch has been dominant yet again for the Panthers as the junior ace of the Pitt staff
· The Mason, Ohio native is 5-0 in six attempts this season, leading the starters with a 2.63 ERA in 41 innings pitched
· The sky high 6’7” Zeuch has allowed just 35 hits and nine walks for a WHIP of 1.07 to pace the Panthers’ starters, recording 43 strikeouts and holding opponents to a .226 average
· A projected high round draft pick, Zeuch is one of the most prolific pitchers in Pitt history


· Shortstop Charles Leblanc has been dominant for the Panthers this season, leading one of the top offenses in the nation in just his second season of collegiate baseball
· Leblanc is ninth in the NCAA and third in the ACC with an average of .423 in 34 games, recording 38 RBIs
· In addition, Leblanc has posted a team-high 19 multiple hit games and 10 multiple RBI performances, including a six-RBI outing against Clemson (April 2) and a five-RBI showing at Grambling State (Feb. 28)


· Sophomore outfielder Frank Maldonado has had a superb sophomore campaign, promoting him to batting out of the second spot in the lineup in recent games
· Maldonado hit .188 after appearing in 42 games with the Panthers last season, producing five triples, he has already matched that production with five three baggers on the year, but has upped his average to .331, second amongst the Panthers
· The Short Hills, N.J. native has one home run and 17 RBIs, along with a perfect fielding percentage in 71 opportunities.


· Sophomore Charles Leblanc has been named to the Brooks Wallace Midseason Watchlist
· The award is given annually to the top shortstop in the nation
· Leblanc joins the cast of 54 student-athletes to make the cut, including five ACC shortstops


· The honors continue to roll in for shortstop Charles Leblanc, as he was named a Perfect Game All-American
· Leblanc checked in on the second team, joining the cast of nine ACC players to make the cut


· The Panthers’ offense was dominant in a 13-5 win over Kent State on Wednesday, March 30 as Pitt had a pair of players with two home runs and three players with three or more RBIs
· Both Alex Kowalczyk and Ron Sherman went yard twice in the outing, as Kowalczyk recorded his sixth and seventh homers of the season and Sherman marked his fourth and fifth bombs of the year
· In addition to Kowalczyk’s five RBIs and Sherman’s three, shortstop Charles Leblanc posted three of his own with a two-RBI double in the second inning and a single in the sixth



· Junior starting pitcher T.J. Zeuch was named to D1 Baseball’s Top Prospects List for the 2016 draft, checking in at No. 7 on the list as the fourth-highest ranked pitcher
· Zeuch also earned the honor from Baseball America, checking in at No. 8 as the fifth-highest ranked pitcher
· He earned a 5-6 record in 2015, posting a 3.87 ERA in 14 starts with 90 strikeouts and just 25 walks, while posting a respectable 1.36 WHIP


· Pitt will welcome Maryland-Eastern Shore for a two-game mid-week series Tuesday and Wednesday at Charles L. Cost Field
· ACC play will resume the following weekend as the Panthers travel to South Bend, Ind., for a three-game stand with Fighting Irish of Notre Dame

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