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Coast to Coast: Huskies Visit CCU for Weekend Classic

Senior captain Ryan Fuller and the Huskies take on UAB, Coastal and Michigan.

March 15, 2012

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STORRS, Conn. - UConn takes part in the Coastal Carolina Classic in its final early season tournament of 2012 against UAB, CCU and Michigan.

About the Huskies... Connecticut has won the all four weekend-openers so far this season, following an 8-7 win over No. 22 Oklahoma, last weekend. The Huskies are coming off a 2-2 showing at the NIKE Showcase in Oregon. Connecticut is 6-8 overall and led by sophomore LHP Brian Ward who has posted a 3-0 record and 1.71 earned run average in four starts. At the plate, senior first baseman Ryan Fuller is batting a team-high .354 with five doubles and 11 RBI. Junior second baseman LJ Mazzilli lifted his average to .302 with a 6-13 weekend and was named the BIG EAST Player of the Week. He has scored a team-high 11 runs and has six extra-base hits to go with seven runs driven in. After committing 22 errors in the first 10 games of the season, the UConn defense committed only four in Oregon. The Huskies hold a team .268 batting average, while holding opponents to .234.

NIKE Recap... Ward improved to 3-0 on the season in the win over Oklahoma to kick-off the NIKE College Showcase, hosted by Oregon and Oregon State. Mazzilli and Fuller each picked up RBI doubles in the first inning against the Sooners. UConn took the lead in the sixth behind a walk and a steal by sophomore shortstop Tom Verdi and singles by redshirt-senior catcher Joe Pavone and sophomore third baseman Mike Friel, all with two out. In game one of a Saturday day-night doubleheader, the Huskies fell to Illinois, 5-1. In the nightcap, UConn trailed 3-1, but put up crooked numbers in every inning between the fifth and eighth to come-from-behind for a 6-3 win. The weekend ended with a 4-0 loss to No. 17 Oregon, despite a complete game by sophomore lefty Anthony Marzi.



Scouting the Field... UAB enters the weekend with a 12-5 record. Freshman DH Jeff Schalk is the only regular batting over .300 at .315. Senior third baseman Patrick Palmeiro has driven in a team-best 13 runs, while batting .254 and scoring eight runs. On the mound, senior RHP Dillon Napoleon gets that call against UConn. Napoleon is 2-1 with a 3.46 ERA. Senior right fielder Daniel Bowman leads Coastal Carolina (9-6) with a .364 average, nine runs and eight RBI. Junior RHP Josh Conway starts against the Huskies and owns a 1-1 record with a 1.29 ERA in three starts. Michigan is 7-9 after snapping a five-game losing streak with a win over Notre Dame last weekend. Sophomore right fielder Michael O'Neill and freshman left fielder Will Drake lead the way with .394 and .383 batting averages, respectively. O'Neill has belted six homeruns, picked up 17 RBI and stolen 10 bases, while Drake has scored 17 times, knocked in 12 runs and swiped six bags. Either junior lefty Bobby Brosnahan (2-2, 2.54) or junior righty Ben Ballantine (1-0, 2.03) will pitch against the Huskies.

Player of the Week... Mazzilli was named the BIG EAST Player of the Week for the week ending March 11. He batted .462 (6-13) and had a .611 OBP and .846 SLG, in Oregon. Mazzilli led UConn with three runs scored, four driven in and six extra-base hits, including his second HR. He has recorded a hit in 13 of 14 games.

Regional Re-Match... Connecticut and Coastal Carolina met in last year's NCAA Clemson Regional, with the Chanticleers winning the opening game, 13-1. The Huskies had the final say as the two teams met in an elimination game, a 12-6 UConn win, on the third day of the tournament. Husky starter Matt Barnes was tagged for seven runs on nine hits in 4.1 innings in game one. Facing elimination, Ward pitched eight innings to earn the win as Mike Nemeth went 4-5, while Mazzilli and John Andreoli each collected three hits at the top of the order.

Following Mike Olt... Connecticut's third game this weekend will be played at BB&T Coastal Field, the home of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Last season, former Husky Mike Olt played third base for the Pelicans, the Advanced Single A minor league affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Olt, ranked 43 amongst Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects of 2012, slugged a team-leading 14 homeruns to go with 42 RBI and a .267 average.

Up Next... The Huskies return to the Northeast for their first home game at J.O. Christian Field against Yale on March 21, before embarking on the BIG EAST season.

Lefty Lineup... Connecticut's probable rotation for the weekend features three left-handed starters. Ward has been the team's ace this season, while Marzi is still awaiting his first win of the season. Freshman Jared Dettman, whose first career start was postponed due to the cancellation of Monday's game at Seattle, is scheduled to pitch against Michigan on Sunday.

TWI(UConn)B History... In 2002, less than a week after taking two games in a three-game set against UAB, UConn defeated Old Dominion, 13-5, on March 16 and Columbia, 12-2, on March 18, both at ODU. Jesse Carlson earned the win over the Monarchs going 6.1 innings with seven Ks.

Vs. the Ranked... So far, UConn is 1-2 against ranked opponents in 2012 after a 4-0 loss at Oregon (3/11), in the NIKE Showcase finale. Connecticut defeated Oklahoma (3/9), 8-7, and fell to Charleston (2/25), 10-6. The Huskies posted a 5-4 record against teams ranked in the national polls in 2011. Six of those nine games came in the NCAA tournament, including wins over No. 21 Coastal Carolina (6/5) and No. 12 Clemson (6/5-6).