Feb. 19, 2014
Opening Weekend... UConn dropped its first three games of the 2014 season at the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Fla. The Huskies fell, 8-2, to Ohio State in the opener despite the first career homerun for Bobby Melley (Barnstable, Mass.). On Saturday, the Husky offense was stymied by Indiana State, managing just two hits and dropping a 3-0 decision. In the Sunday finale, Nico Darras (Laguna Beach, Calif.) collected two hits and an RBI but five UConn errors led to Auburn putting four unearned runs on the board and taking the game, 7-3.
About the Huskies... UConn is coming off a 35-28 season that saw the Huskies claim their third and final BIG EAST Tournament Championship and return to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the last four years. Connecticut returns six starters to the lineup, including senior shortstop Tom Verdi (Warwick, R.I.) and sophomore infielder Vinny Siena (Woodbridge, Conn.), who combined to drive in 56 runs and steal 29 bases. On the mound, senior lefty Anthony Marzi (Berlin, Conn.) returns to anchor a staff that finished with a 3.42 earned run average in 2013. The Huskies reached the 30-win mark for the eighth time in the past 10 seasons.
Scouting the Shockers... Wichita State opened the 2014 season with a three-game sweep over SIU Edwardsville, then won a midweek contest with Central Arkanas to improve to 4-0. The Shockers' bats erupted in the opening series, scoring 34 runs and connecting for 41 hits. Over the first four games, 1B Casey Gillaspie is hitting .529 with two homeruns and 10 RBIs and is one of seven starters with an on-base percentage over .400. On the mound, junior righty A.J. Ladwig, Friday's starter vs. UConn, tossed 5.2 innings of scoreless ball, notching six strikeouts and allowing just seven base runners. The Wichita State staff has recorded 41 strikeouts in 36.0 innings of work.
All-Time vs. Wichita State... Friday's game will be the first-ever meeting between the two programs on the diamond.
Scouting the Patriots... George Mason is off to a 3-0 start in 2014, collecting two wins over Morehead State and taking home a victory over USC Upstate in Spartanburg, S.C. The Patriot offense tallied 43 runs over the weekend, as six players recorded at least four RBI. Redshirt-senior infielder Chris Cook belted two round-trippers and has eight hits in his first 14 at-bats to pace the offense. Junior OF Luke Willis has scored five runs and picked up two stolen bases. The Patriot staff has allowed just seven earned runs in 27.0 innings.
All-Time vs. George Mason... The Huskies and Patriots have met 16 times in the past, with the Huskies holding a slim 9-7 series advantage. The teams first met in March of 1986 when George Mason escaped with 3-2 victory on a neutral field. The most recent showdown came in three-game set last season in Fairfax, Va. which saw the Huskies outscore the Patriots, 20-7, and earn two victories. Former standout 2B LJ Mazzilli went 7-11 in the series with four RBI and four runs scored.
Scouting the Chanticleers... Coastal Carolina opened its season with a three-game series against Pittsburgh, falling in the first two contests before taking the back end of a Sunday doubleheader. The offense scored 19 runs, led by sophomore INF Connor Owings who went 6-for-13 with two doubles and three runs on the weekend. Senior RHP Tyler Herb, who will face UConn on Sunday, was tagged with the loss in his first start of 2014, surrendering three earned runs in 4.0 innings of work.
All-Time vs. Coastal Carolina... The Chanticleers hold a 2-1 all-time series edge that dates back to the 2011 NCAA Tournament Clemson Regional. The Huskies fell, 13-1, to the Chanticleers in the first game of the Clemson Regional but rallied and captured a 12-6 victory two days later, backed by a three-hit performance from Mazzilli. The most recent matchup came in the 2012 season when Coastal topped UConn, 6-2, in Conway, S.C. Marzi got the nod for the Huskies and tossed 7.0 innings of three-run ball, allowing just five hits and striking out four.
Following the weekend in South Carolina, UConn continues its early season Southern tour when it plays a three-game set against Lipscomb. The Huskies and Bison will play Feb. 28-March 2 in Nashville.