McDonald overcomes shaky 1st, Pirates beat Red Sox 4-3
Written by Associated Press
ROUGH START—James McDonald throws during the first inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Boston Red Sox, March 18, in Bradenton, Fla. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
BRADENTON, Fla. (AP)—James McDonald was not rattled by his rough start.
McDonald labored in the first inning, then recovered as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Boston Red Sox 4-3 Monday.
“I got locked back in, kept my composure and finished strong,” McDonald said. “I didn't let the game get away from me. I felt confident—every pitch, every moment out there.”
Ryan Lavarnway hit a two-run single in the first. McDonald then retired 11 of 14 batters. He gave up four hits and three walks in five innings and struck out six.
This was the second game in a row that McDonald overcame a rocky first inning.
“It’s definitely correctable,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “He's got some weapons. With James, it’s about rhythm, pace and timing. That improved as the game went on. We’ve got to keep him working and take the cerebral part out of it.”
McDonald has a 4.19 ERA in five games with 4 strikeouts in 19 1-3 innings.
Neil Walker homered to end Clay Buchholz's 9 1-3 inning scoreless streak and Gaby Sanchez hit a two-run drive.
Walker’s leadoff homer in the second was the only hit off Buchholz, who struck out four and walked two in five innings.
Sanchez homered in the seventh against Chris Carpenter, and Michael McKenry hit a solo drive off Oscar Villarreal in the eighth.
NOTES: Red Sox DH David Ortiz’s scheduled batting practice was canceled due to continued pain in both heels. “He’s not ready for that next phase,” Farrell said…The start of the game was delayed by 48 minutes, but it didn't start raining until after the tarp was removed and play got under way…The Pirates reassigned RHPs Gerrit Cole, Brooks Brown, Kyle Waldrop, LHP Kris Johnson and C Ali Solis to their minor league camp. RHP Phil Irwin was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. Cole, the first overall pick in the 2011 amateur draft, is the team’s top prospect.…Closer Jason Grilli pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning in his first appearance for the Pirates since pitching for Italy in the World Baseball Classic.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 March 2013 08:00
Pitt in unfamiliar position in return to NCAAs
Written by Associated Press
FINAL BIG EAST BATTLE--Pittsburgh's Steven Adams (13) goes up past Syracuse's C.J. Fair during the Big East Conference tournament, March 14, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
by Will Graves
AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The NCAA tournament held opening weekend games at Consol Energy Center last spring, a few hundred feet from Tray Woodall's front door. The Pittsburgh guard, however, wanted none of it.
"We weren't in the tournament so I didn't go over there," Woodall said. "I was frustrated."
A year later, Woodall and the Panthers are back in the middle of the madness.
Following a lost season in which Pitt missed the tournament for the first time in over a decade, the eighth-seeded Panthers (24-8) will play ninth-seeded Wichita State (26-8) in the second round of the West Region in Salt Lake City on Thursday.
While senior center Dante Taylor admitted he was a little surprised to see a team that went 12-6 in the Big East drop all the way to an eighth seed, it certainly beats the alternative of not being in the tournament at all.
"I definitely think it's something we're going to use to our advantage," Taylor said. "There's nothing we can do about it. Yeah we usually are higher but we've got to prove to people we deserve to be higher."
Pitt hasn't been seeded so low in the NCAA since being a ninth-seed in 2005, when the Panthers were knocked off by Pacific in the opening round. Woodall cautioned Pitt could make another early exit if it takes the Shockers lightly.
"We said while we were watching the (selection) show, we basically could be playing Gonzaga but if we do that we're overlooking" Wichita, Woodall said. "We want to win. Me and Dante want to go out on top. We want to make a big run."
It's something the Panthers failed to do in their final go-round at the Big East tournament last week. Pitt qualified as the fourth seed and earned a double-bye but never really got going in a 62-59 loss to Syracuse.
The Panthers shot just 37 percent from the floor and never led over the final 28 minutes. Taylor earned five stitches over his right eye while battling for a rebound and has missed two straight practices and his vision out of the eye remains blurry. He didn't practice Sunday but insisted "I'll be good" by Thursday.
Pitt will certainly need him against the Shockers, who average a robust 38.4 rebounds per game and will hardly be intimidated against a team that has looked vulnerable at times. The Panthers went just 5-7 against teams that made the NCAA field and have five players making their NCAA tournament debuts, including starting point guard James Robinson and center Steven Adams.
The 7-foot Adams, a New Zealand native, is still trying to get a handle on the NCAAs. It was never a priority while growing up half a world away.
"It never interested me at all," Adams said with a laugh.
Things have changed in the last few weeks. He called the atmosphere at Madison Square Garden for the Big East tournament an eye opener and believes he's better prepared to handle the pressure that comes this time of year.
"I've been progressing," he said. "I've been quite happy about it as I've been gaining a bit more confidence here or there."
Even if the bank of TVs turned to the selection show and the murmur that went up when Pitt's name finally popped up caught him by surprise. Adams has no real sense of what the seeding means. He just knows one loss and the season is over.
"I don't really care who we play, just so long as we win," Adams said.
It's an ethos preached by coach Jamie Dixon. While he anticipated a team that finished fourth in the Big East getting a friendlier seed, he pointed out "nobody except the ones are probably happy with their seeds."
Besides, for once Pitt enters the tournament under the radar. For a program still searching for its first Final Four appearance in the modern era, that's not a bad thing. The Panthers were a No. 1 seed two years ago only to fall victim to eighth-seeded Butler in the second round.
How fitting if they could earn a chance to turn the tables provided they can beat Wichita State first. Pitt dominated the last meeting between the two schools in 2009, rolling to a 68-55 victory behind 19 points from Woodall.
It seems like a long time ago, but for veterans Woodall and Taylor the mission remains the same.
"We've just got to go in and handle business," Taylor said. "We've got to get the W."
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"They didn't even tell me there was going to be a whole bunch of people here. They just told me there was going to be food. So I said, 'Sweet, food," Pittsburgh freshman center Steve Adams, who grew up in New Zealand and had no idea why his teammates and a few hundred Panthers fans were gathering to watch the tournament selection show. --AP
Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 March 2013 15:38
Big East alums in NBA lament conference’s demise
Written by Associated Press
RETURN TO DENVER--New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, rear, jokes with teammates as they warm up before facing the Denver Nuggets in an NBA basketball game in Denver, March 13. The game marked Anthony's first at the Pepsi Center after his trade from Denver to New York two years ago. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
by Jon Krawczynski
AP Basketball Writer
The Big East tournament has begun, and it's one of Carmelo Anthony’s favorite times of year.
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 March 2013 13:02
10 things to know for the NCAA tournament
Written by Associated Press
LONG SHOT--South Dakota State University player Nate Wolster makes a pass over the head of Kory Brown (22) as TrayVonn Wright (32) looks on in the final minutes of the Summit League men's basketball tournament title game March 12, in Sioux Falls, S.D. The Jacks won 73-67 to advance to the NCAA Division I Tournament. (AP Photo/Elijah Van Benschoten)
by Eddie Pells
AP National Writer
A look at the NCAA men's tournament, the 68-team free-for-all that begins Tuesday and ends three weeks from now at the Final Four in Atlanta:
1. WHO'S NUMBER 1?
Well, we won't know who the NCAA champion is until the Final Four is over on April 8. But the four No. 1 seeds heading into the tournament: Louisville, Kansas, Indiana and Gonzaga. The Cardinals are the overall top seed.
2. INTRODUCING THE DEFENDING CHAMPIONS ...
If you want to find last year's national champions, don't look in this bracket. After losing six players from its title team last year, Kentucky finished 21-11 and wasn't among the 68 teams in the tournament.
3. PICKING A WINNER ...
Louisville is where the smart money is going — the early 9-2 favorite in Vegas to win it all. But in order to guarantee picking the winner of all 67 games, you'd have to fill out more than 9 quintillion brackets. That's a 9, followed by 18 zeros. If you used one sheet of paper for each bracket, all that paper, according to one mathematician, would not fit inside the universe.
4. YAY FOR THE LITTLE GUY ...
But, please, don't call Gonzaga a little guy. Yes, it's the small Jesuit school in Spokane, Wash., undergrad enrollment 4,900. But this is a basketball powerhouse. The Bulldogs — better known as the Zags — have been in the tournament 15 years straight and made the Sweet 16 five times since 1999. They're led by 7-foot center Kelly Olynyk, who is widely regarded as one of the top players in the country. Oh, and remember the Bulter Bulldogs, the team that made the national final in 2010 and 2011 with enrollment 4,500? They're seeded sixth in the East and their mascot, Blue II, is retiring after the season.
Even with the loss of freshman star Jordan Adams, did any team in the bracket get a worse deal than UCLA? The Bruins, regular-season champions in the Pac-12, got a sixth seed in the South Region and have a tough matchup against Minnesota in their opening game. (Viewers responding to an unscientific ESPN poll Sunday night called that matchup as the most likely to produce an upset.) All part of a bad day for the conference, whose tournament champion, Oregon, was seeded 12th. Could've been worse, though. The Pac-12 put five teams in the tournament this year. Last year, this "Power Conference" only put one team, Colorado, in the hunt for a national title.
6. BIG EAST FAREWELL ...
Back in the 1980s, the Big East helped make basketball what it is today, with players like Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin, coaches such as John Thompson and Lou Carnesecca, and its league tournament at Madison Square Garden. After this season, the conference as we know it will be history thanks to massive realignment that has overtaken college sports over the last few years. But the conference certainly isn't going quietly. Led by top overall seed, Louisville, the Big East placed eight teams in the tournament, more than any other league.
7. SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY ...
The St. Louis Billikens, No. 4 seed in the Midwest region, are wearing black ribbons on their jerseys with the word "Coach" emblazoned over them. They're honoring former coach, Rick Majerus, who died in December. The entertaining, portly coaching lifer made a career out of delivering basketball wisdom or a restaurant review with equal aplomb. His best run at March Madness came in 1998 when he led Utah to the title game.
8. GET YOUR TICKETS ...
There's a possible second-round matchup brewing in Salt Lake City between Arizona and New Mexico, two programs with some of the best-traveling, rowdiest fans in the country. It's a short flight from Tucson and Albuquerque to SLC. This will be among the toughest tickets to get in the first week.
9. BIG TEN POWER ...
The Big Ten was widely viewed as the best conference in basketball this season. Ohio State, Michigan State or both have made the Final Four in eight of the past 13 seasons. The Buckeyes, on a roll after winning the conference tournament Sunday, are seeded second in the West, while Tom Izzo's Spartans are third in the Midwest.
10. NAMES TO WATCH, THIS YEAR AND NEXT ...
You could see any of these players in the Final Four this year — or the NBA next year: Trey Burke (Michigan), Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State), Ben McLemore (Kansas), Cody Zeller (Indiana).
Last Updated on Sunday, 17 March 2013 21:02
Written by Bill Neal
:10 Don’t look now boys and girls, but your L.A. Lakers are now tied for the 8th playoff spot in the Western Conference and the party is just getting started.
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 March 2013 13:02
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