Pitt's Steve Vranka smiled broadly at the question, then answered without hesitation.
"No," he said. "I don't ever remember hitting a walk-off home run before."
Not even in Little League?
"Never," he added with a laugh. "I've had chances but I've never come through before."
He came through with a dramatic three-run homer to lift Pitt to a 6-3 victory against Rutgers this past Sunday at the Charles L. Cost Field at the Petersen Sports Complex. The count was 2-1 with two outs in the ninth when he powered a high drive over the left-field wall to give the Panthers a three-game sweep of Rutgers and raise their record to 29-10 overall and 9-3 in the Big East Conference, just a game behind first-place South Florida in the 11-team league.
The Panthers are ranked No. 23 nationally by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper poll.
"I was obviously a little nervous," said Vranka a junior center fielder who graduated from Gateway High School and resides in Monroeville. "It wasn't a home run swing. The ball just carried out. I had the feeling it would when I made contact."
Vranka was asked if he considers himself a power hitter.
"In no sense of the word am I," said Vranka, whose four home runs this season ties for fourth on the team.
He has a .295 batting average and is third with 34 RBIs. He is second in walks with 26 and leads the Panthers with 11 stolen bases in 14 attempts.
"I was even hoping for an infield single with his speed," Pitt coach Joe Jordano said. "Before he went up to bat, I told him to be patient and wait for his pitch.
"He's been swinging the bat well for us since we put him at the top of the lineup. We had moved him down when he started the season slowly. He wasn't seeing the ball as well as he can. He was on the ball his previous bats, but just missing it. He saved his best swing for the right time."
Vranka was hitless his first four times at bat. He struck out looking in the first inning, popped up to the catcher in the third and hit lazy infield flies in the fifth and seventh.
"I was just trying to keep my confidence and forget about the past [at-bats]," he said. "I wanted to keep my focus."
Vranka and the Panthers have improved over last season, when he hit .275 and they were 28-28 and 10-17 in the league.
"One year of experience makes a big difference," he said. "Just seeing more games and seeing more pitches takes away the nerves.
"I know I'm a better player and I knew we'd be better as a team. More people have stepped up and our starting pitching has been perfect."
Vranka was far from perfect earlier in the season when his batting average dipped below .200.
"It was a little rough," he said. "But you have to have a short memory and think you're going to get a hit the next time."
Pitt has won six consecutive Big East games heading into a three-game home series against Cincinnati (16-22, 4-11) this weekend with a doubleheader Saturday and a single game Sunday.