May 31, 2013
BLACKSBURG, Va. – Sophomore righty Carson Cross scattered six hits over 6.1 innings and allowed one run to lead the University of Connecticut baseball team to its sixth NCAA Tournament victory since 2010, a 5-2 win at No. 16 Virginia Tech, on Friday afternoon in front of 3,566 at English Field in Blacksburg, Va.
With the win, the Huskies advance into the winners bracket of the Blacksburg Regional and will square-off against No. 2 seed Oklahoma on Saturday evening. Game time is set for 5:30 p.m. EDT at English Field and the contest will be preceded by an elimination game pitting the Hokies against Coastal Carolina.
Freshman first baseman Bobby Melley paced a UConn offensive attack with a 4-for-5 effort while he scored a run and drove in another. The Huskies chipped away all game long against Tech pitchers and connected for 16 hits, all of which were singles.
Billy Ferriter, LJ Mazzilli, Max McDowell, Eric Yavorone and Stanley Paul each had multiple hits for the Huskies. Mazzilli, who was honored as a second team All-American by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper yesterday, now has 22 hits in 11 career NCAA Tournament games.
Connecticut seized the momentum in the top of the fifth when LJ Mazzilli singled home Verdi on a 3-1 pitch, giving the Huskies a 2-0 lead. After Vinny Siena grounded into a fielder’s choice, Bobby Melley lined a 1-0 pitch into left field to drive in Billy Ferriter.
One of the more odd plays in the game followed that as Tech catcher Chard Morgan threw the ball in the dirt as he was trying to throw it back to the pitcher, Joe Mantiply, following a pitch. Siena hustled home to give UConn a 4-1 lead, as Mantiply chased after the ball in the infield.
The Huskies would add some insurance in the top of the ninth and Virginia Tech put together a rally in the bottom frame. However, the Huskies squelched the rally when Alex Perez was thrown out at third base after trying to advance on a throw from home from left fielder Eric Yavorone.
UConn closer Pat Butler was able close the game by forcing cleanup hitter Tyler Horan to ground out and striking out Mark Zagunis on a 3-2 pitch.
The Huskies struck first with one run in the top half of the second inning. Bobby Melley got things started with a one out single up the middle and advanced to second on a single through the left side by Max McDowell. Jon Testani struck out on a 1-2 pitch but Eric Yavorone came through with a chopper over third base to score Melley. Stanley Paul loaded the bases when he hit bullet to left field but Mantiply was able to get out of the bases loaded jam when Tom Verdi grounded into a fielder’s choice.
The Hokies got on the board when Sean Keselica hit a sac fly to right field to score Kyle Wernicki from third base. Testani had to go a long way to track it down but he did, as Cross was able to limit the damage.
Cross made the 1-0 lead stand up through a tough spot in the bottom half of the fourth inning. The righty surrendered back-to-back walks with one out but came back to strike out Andrew Rash on a 2-2 pitch and Chad Morgan on a full count. Those were Cross’ first two strikeouts of the game.
Verdi led off the game with a single to right center but>Billy Ferriter grounded into a double play to end the early threat.
UConn vs. Virginia Tech Game Notes
- Connecticut is now 28-1 when leading after eight innings.
- With his steal, Tom Verdi becomes the 3rd Husky player on the 2013 squad to reach the 20+ steal ark. UConn holds a 116-90 edge against its opponents in thefts this season.
- UConn is a perfect 19-0 when they hold an opponent to 2 or fewer runs.
- UConn scored more runs (5) tonight than it has in its previous 3 games combined against VT (3 runs).
- LJ Mazzilli eclipsed the 50 RBI plateau for the first time in his career. Mazzilli is responsible for 18.7% (50 of 267) of the Husky RBI this season.
- Viriginia Tech dropped its first game against Connecticut since 2001 when it lost 3-2. The Hokies seven-game win streak against the Huskies was snapped.
- Connecticut has its third 5+ game win streak of the season. The longest UConn winning streak this season sits at seven games.
- Before tonight, the last time UConn won a road game against a ranked team was on 4/29/12 when it upended then-ranked #20 Louisville 7-4.
- Connecticut is 17-6 this season against a lefty starter.
- LJ Mazzillinow has 22 hits in 11 NCAA Tournament games to go along with 10 RBI.