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Huskies Put Five-Game Win Streak on the Line at SHSU

LJ Mazzilli was named to last week's BIG EAST Honor Roll.

March 7, 2013

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STORRS, Conn. -  Connecticut makes a rare trip to Texas as it plays its first three-game series of the season at Sam Houston State. Junior left-hander Anthony Marzi gets the ball in game one at 7:30 pm ET on Friday night.

About the Huskies... UConn is 6-3 after sweeping the field at the Bright House Invitational Tournament, hosted by Stetson last weekend. The Huskies starting rotation combined for 19.1 innings pitched an wound up on the long-side of the decision in all three contests. Senior second baseman LJ Mazzilli is hitting a team-best, fifth in the league, .415 with nine runs and eight RBI. Sophomore left fielder Eric Yavarone is riding a nine-game hitting streak and holds a .385 average with a team-high nine RBI. On the hill, redshirt-sophomore Carson Cross is 2-0 with a 1.89 earned run average, while holding opponents to a .183 batting average to go with 15 strikeouts.

In the Polls... Connecticut received votes in this week's NCBWA Top-25. It is the first time the Huskies received votes since the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Preseason Poll on January 26, 2012. UConn was last ranked at the conclusion of the 2011 season in all four polls, ranking as high as No. 11 in Baseball America.

Five in a Row... Dating back to a 13-8 win over Troy at Central Florida, Connecticut has won five straight games with an average margin of victory of 3.8 runs. In all five games, the Husky starter has pitched at least six innings. In 2012, UConn's longest winning streak was seven games between March 21 and 30.

Lone Star State of Mind... The Huskies are making just their third trip to the state of Texas in program history. UConn holds a 3-3 record in the "Lone Star State" after making trips in 2006 to Lamar University in Beaumont and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in 2011. Connecticut beat the host Islanders, 7-0, in its only win over a team from Texas, within its borders. In 2006, UConn won neutral site games against New Orleans and Iona.

Mr. February... Despite a loss and a no-decision in his first two starts, junior lefty Brian Ward has proven to be extremely effective in the month of February. He owned a 2.08 ERA with nine strikeouts in 13 innings last month. In four career starts during February, Ward is 2-1 with a 1.64 ERA and 17 K's in 27.1 innings of work.

Early Season Swing... For the second straight year, Yavarone is off to a hot start through the season's first three weekends. Through the first nine games of the 2012 and 2013 season, he has combined to hit .377 (26-for-69), two HRs and 14 RBI. Yavarone is currently riding a nine-game hitting streak after starting his career with an eight-game streak at the start of 2012.

Up Next... UConn returns to the "Nutmeg State" for road games at Central Connecticut (Mar. 12) and Sacred Heart (Mar. 13) before heading south for three games at Presbyterian (Mar. 15-17) and Charleston (Mar. 19).

Bullpen Bagels... The Husky bullpen has tossed 26 scoreless innings of the 35.1 collective innings pitched. As a unit, the bullpen owns a 3.06 ERA, compared to a 5.82 ERA by opposing relievers. Senior RHP Ryan Moore and redshirt-sophomore LHP David Mahoney each own a 0.00 ERA and have combined for 13 strikeouts in 10 innings. In extra-inning games, the bullpen has thrown 13 innings, given up six hits, struck out 10 and allowed zero runs.

23 Ways to Reach First... Through nine games, UConn has shown great patience at the plate and finding ways to get on. Junior Tom Verdi, sophomores Connor David and Jon Testani as well as freshmen Bobby Melley and Bryan Daniello are all hitting below .250, but maintain OBPs of .340 or higher. As a team, the Huskies own a .401 OBP, ranking 32nd in Division I, to .328 for their opponents.

On the Bases... Connecticut made numerous baserunning mishaps last weekend, but has remained dedicated to its aggressive game plan as the Huskies have attempted 30 stolen bases to the opponents 13. UConn has totaled 22 steals, a .733 success rate, while the Huskies are yet to throw out an opposing runner on the bases. Ferriter and Verdi lead Connecticut with five steals apiece. The 22 steals rank 22nd in Division I and 2.44 per game is 13th.

TWI(UConn)B History... The Huskies have had great success in recent years playing between March 8 and 10. Just last season, Connecticut defeated No. 22 Oklahoma, 8-7, in Eugene, Ore. behind six innings and seven strikeouts from Ward and two RBIs from Mazzilli and Joe Pavone. The Huskies followed that up with a win at No. 26 Oregon State as David Fischer pitched 3.1-scoreless innings out of the pen to earn the win, 6-3. UConn fell to No. 22 UC-Irvine in 2011, but rebounded with a 6-4 win over San Diego. In 2004, Josh MacDonald pitched the Huskies to victory over Butler to earn Head Coach Jim Penders his first career win.

An Eye on the Books... Mazzilli and Ferriter sit in the top-20 of nine major offensive categories in the UConn record book. Mazzilli took over second in career doubles with 55 and tied Brian Majeski for the all-time lead in triples with 11. On the bases, Ferriter ranks second with 78 stolen bases and needs three to pass Dennis Dwyer to become the Huskies' all-time leading base stealer. Ferriter (226) currently sits in eighth all-time in hits, while Mazzilli (220) is ninth.