May 25, 2013
Feature: Huskies Ride Emotional Wave To Final
CLEARWATER, Fla. - University of Connecticut starting pitcher Jordan Tabakman (Pompton Plains, N.J.) pitched seven innings and gave up just one run while striking out six to lead the Huskies to a 2-1 win over Rutgers in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship on Saturday afternoon.
UConn now faces Notre Dame in the championship game of the tournament on Sunday at noon (ESPNU, WTIC.com, WHUS-91.7 FM) with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
Sunday’s matchup between the UConn and the Irish is an improbable one as the Huskies were the No. 8 seed entering the tournament and the Irish were the No. 7 seed. Both teams went 3-0 in the double-elimination pool play portion of the tournament. Notre Dame defeated Pittsburgh by a 3-2 score in Saturday’s other semifinal.
UConn has defeated Louisville, USF and Rutgers in the tournament after posting a combined 1-8 record against those teams during the regular season. The Irish swept a three-game series from the Huskies this season (April 26-28) at Notre Dame, Ind., outscoring UConn by a combined score of 28-10.
UConn has won two BIG EAST tournaments in school history (1990 and ’94) and has now advanced to the championship game in four of the past seven years. The Huskies will also be looking to make the NCAA tournament for the third time in the past four years.
It will be the first final between the Nos. 7 and 8 seeds in BIG EAST Championship history as the Huskies join the 2007 UConn squad as the only No. 8 seeds to reach the championship game. Notre Dame is the first No. 7 seed in tournament history to reach the final.
UConn improves to 33-26 on the season while Rutgers ends its campaign at 28-30.
The Huskies scored their only two runs of the game in the first inning against RU starter Rob Corsi. Junior Tom Verdi (Warwick, R.I.) led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a groundout. Senior second baseman LJ Mazzilli (Greenwich, Conn.) had an RBI double to score Verdi and later advanced to third on a Scarlet Knights error. Mazzilli then scored on a wild pitch for the other Husky run.
Corsi settled down nicely after the first and kept Rutgers in the game the entire time as he went seven innings and gave up six hits, just four after the first inning, and struck out two while walking one. He ends his season with a 3-4 record.
The only Rutgers run of the game, and the final one of the entire contest, came in the top of the second on a RBI single by Brian O’Grady that scored Steve Zavala. At that point, there were runners at the corner with one out, but the Huskies got out of trouble when Lou Clemente grounded into a double play.
Tabakman improved to 6-2 on the season with the as he threw 99 pitches, including 65 for strikes. Once again the Husky bullpen was outstanding as senior Dan Feehan (Nashua, N.H.) and sophomore David Mahoney (Colchester, Conn.) combined to pitch a 1-2-3 eighth inning and senior Pat Butler (Chatham, N.J.) picked up his fourth save of the season as he pitched the ninth giving up one hit.
The UConn bullpen has pitched 10.2 innings in the first three game of the BIG EAST Tournament, giving up just three runs (all in the USF game) while striking out six and walking none.
Freshman first baseman Bobby Melley (Barnstable, Mass.) was two-for-three and was the only Husky with multiple hits as the Huskies were limited to seven the entire game. Jeff Mellio and O’Grady each had two hit for Rutgers, who were also held to only seven hits.