May 24, 2013
Feature: Never Say Die For These Huskies
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Senior designed hitter Stanley Paul (Stamford, Conn.) scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning on a wild pitch as the University of Connecticut baseball team came back from a 7-0 deficit and defeated USF by an 8-7 score in a winners’ bracket game of the BIG EAST tournament on Thursday night.
Connecticut, the No. 8 seed in the event, has now beaten top-seed Louisville and the No. 4 seed Bulls to start the tournament. During the regular season, UConn was swept in three-game series by both the Bulls and the Cardinals. Connecticut improves to 32-26 on the year while the Bulls are 36-21.
The Huskies will have the day off on Friday and return to action on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. (ESPN3, WTIC.com, WHUS-91.7 FM) against the winner of the USF-Rutgers elimination game that will be played on Friday at 6:00 p.m. The Huskies will need to win one of two games on Saturday to advance to Sunday’s championship game.
The Huskies spotted USF a 7-0 lead as the Bulls scored single runs in the first and second innings and exploded for four in the fourth and another in the fifth. The rest of the scoring for the game came from the Huskies with a six-run fifth inning and single runs in the eighth and ninth.
In the ninth with the game tied at 7-7, Paul reached second on a USF outfield error and then advanced to third on a one-out wild pitch. USF then intentionally walked senior center fielder Billy Ferriter (Nashua, N.H.) and senior second baseman LJ Mazzilli (Greenwich, Conn.) to load the bases. With freshman third baseman Vinny Siena (Woodbridge, N.J.) at the plate, USF pitcher Jordan Strittmatter gave up the winning run on the wild pitch that scored Paul.
UConn used six pitchers in the game and the Husky bullpen went five and two-thirds innings and gave up three runs on nine hits. The final three relievers for UConn went three and two-third innings of shutout relief with just a hit given up. Sophomore David Mahoney (Colchester, Conn.) improved his record to 2-2 on the year as he pitched the final two and two-third innings of hitless relief.
UConn trailed 7-6 going into the bottom of the eighth, but tied the game on a sacrifice fly by sophomore right fielder Jon Testani (Monroe, Conn.) that plated Siena, who led off the inning with a single.
USF seemed to have the game in control as it scored its four runs on four hits in the fourth inning, with two of those runs coming on a double by Mendez and an RBI doubles by James Ramsay and Jimmy Falla. The Bulls made it 7-0 on another RBI double by Nik Alfonse – but USF was done for the day.
The UConn fifth inning began the improbable comeback win with six Husky runs – all of them scored with two outs. A one-out Testani walk started out things innocently enough, which was followed by a strikeout and a walk to Paul and junior shortstop Todd Verdi (Warwick, R.I.) being hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Senior center fielder Billy Ferriter (Nashua, N.H.) got the Huskies on the board with a two-run single that plated Paul and Testani to make it 7-2. Mazzilli then singled to score Verdi and an RBI single by Siena scored Mazzilli and Ferriter made it 7-5. Siena scored on a wild pitch after getting to third on an outfield error on his single.
Ferriter and Mazzilli each had two hits for Connecticut, who scored its eight runs on just nine hits. USF had six players with two hits, led by first baseman Jimmy Falla – who was two-for-four with a pair of RBI.
USF reliever Jordan Strittmatter (0-1) took the loss and was the fifth Bull pitcher of the night. Starter Nick Gonzalez went four and two-thirds inning giving up six hits and six runs.
UConn starter Anthony Marzi lasted a shorter time – three and a third innings – giving up four runs and four hits.