March 14, 2013
STORRS, Conn. - Connecticut makes its final Southern trip this weekend, beginning with a three-game set at Presbyterian College. Saturday night’s game will be played at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C., home of the Red Sox’ Single-A Greenville Drive.
About the Huskies... UConn bounced back from a 6-4 walk-off loss to Sam Houston State, which ended its seven-game win streak, with an 8-5 win over Central Connecticut on Wednesday afternoon to improve to 9-4 on the season. Senior second baseman LJ Mazzilli is hitting a team-high .411 with 14 runs, 11 RBI and nine extra-base hits. On the hill, redshirt-sophomore RHP Carson Cross has pitched 20.1-consecutive scoreless innings and owns a 1.37 earned run average and 3-0 record. Freshman third baseman Vinny Siena is coming off a career day at CCSU and has lifted his average to .371 with 11 RBI.
In the Polls... Connecticut received votes in the NCBWA Top-30 for the second straight week. Prior to last week, the Huskies last received votes in the 2012 USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ Preseason Poll. UConn was last ranked at the conclusion of the 2011 season in all four polls, ranking as high as No. 11 in Baseball America.
Last Time Out... Siena posted the first five-hit game by a Husky since 2010, drove in three runs and stole two bases in an 8-5 win over Central Connecticut. Freshman LHP Christian Colletti made his first career start and picked up the win in 3.1-hitless innings. He struck out five and didn’t allow a base runner. Mazzilli went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a triple. UConn stole a season-high six bases in the win.
Scouting the Blue Hose... Presbyterian is 11-7 on the season and winners of three of its last four games, including a mid-week win at Wofford, 3-1, in 10 innings. Redshirt-senior center fielder Aaron Preston and redshirt-junior right fielder Brandon Paul lead the team with identical .324 batting averages. They each have six doubles, while Paul has scored 12 runs and knocked in 10. The three Blue Hose starters that will throw this weekend have combined to go 6-2; all with ERAs under 3.00. Sophomore lefty Beau Dees has posted a team-best 1.29 ERA and 2-1 record, while junior righty Bud Jeter is 2-1 with 34 strikeouts.
In the Palmetto State... Last season, Connecticut went just 1-5 in two trips to South Carolina. The Huskies won the weekend opener of the Cougar Classic in Charleston against Xavier, 7-2, and have since lost five-straight within the state’s borders. However, in 2011, Connecticut played some of the program’s biggest games in South Carolina, including the NCAA Super Regional at USC and the Clemson Regional. In all, the Huskies went 4-3 in the NCAA Tournament, winning four-straight elimination games in Clemson.
Mazzilli Receives Preseason Accolades... Mazzilli was named the BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year by the league’s coaches. One of the top hitters in the league in 2012, Mazzilli was an All-BIG EAST First Team selection last season. He was also named a Louisville Slugger Preseason First Team All-America pick by Collegiate Baseball News. For the second straight season, Mazzilli was tabbed as an All-America First Team selection by Perfect Game USA. He was also named to the Baseball America Preseason All-America Third Team.
Triples Crown... In the ninth inning of Wednesday’s game at Central, Mazzilli tripled for the 12th time in his career to pass Brian Majeski for first all-time at UConn.
Up Next... The Huskies round out their South Carolina trip with a game at College of Charleston at 6:00 pm on Tuesday night before returning to Storrs for the home opening series against Georgetown, March 22-24.
Bullpen Bagels... The Husky bullpen has tossed 33 scoreless innings of the 48.0 collective innings pitched. As a unit, the bullpen owns a 3.49 ERA, compared to a 5.43 ERA by opposing relievers. Senior RHP Will Jolin owns a 0.00 ERA in five innings and redshirt-sophomore LHP David Mahoney holds a 2.08 ERA in 8.2 innings pitched. 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 13 games, UConn has shown great patience at the plate and finding ways to get on. Junior Tom Verdi, sophomores Connor David and Testani as well as freshmen Bobby Melley and Daniello are all hitting below .250, but maintain OBPs of .350 or higher. As a team, the Huskies own a .407 OBP, ranking 30th in Division I, to .327 for their opponents.
On the Bases... Connecticut made numerous base running mishaps last weekend, but has remained dedicated to its aggressive game plan as the Huskies have attempted 48 stolen bases to the opponents 17. UConn has totaled 36 steals, a .750 success rate, while the Huskies are yet to throw out an opposing runner on the bases. Verdi and Ferriter lead UConn with eight and seven, respectively. The Huskies entered the week with 30 steals, good enough for 19th in the country and 11th in steals per game, 2.50.
TWI(UConn)B History... In a four-game road swing through North Carolina and Virginia, Connecticut won three out of four games between March 16 and 18, 1989. The Huskies swept a doubleheader at Elon before falling to Richmond and taking a game at George Mason. Jim Allen, Craig Gaudio and Jim Jones were the three winning pitchers for UConn.
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 56. On the bases, Ferriter tied Dennis Dwyer with 80th career stolen base at CCSU on Wednesday. Ferriter (229) currently sits in seventh all-time in hits, while Mazzilli (226) is ninth.