Jim Penders and the Huskies take on ND at 5:35 Friday.
April 25, 2013
STORRS, Conn. - For the second straight week, UConn faces a team ranked No. 28 in the country. The Huskies visit Notre Dame for a three-game BIG EAST series beginning with a 5:35 pm ET contest on Friday.
About the Huskies... Connecticut was swept by No. 28 USF at home last weekend and has bounced back with mid-week wins over Massachusetts, 5-4, and Bryant, 11-6, to enter the weekend at 25-16 overall and tied for fifth in the league at 8-7 with Rutgers. Senior second baseman LJ Mazzilli is batting a team-best .329 and also leads the offense in runs (37), home runs (4) and RBI (34), while stealing 21 bases. Redshirt-senior center fielder Billy Ferriter has swung the hottest bat of late and has lifted his average to .281 to go with 30 runs, while leading the team in doubles (10) and steals (23). Redshirt-sophomore RHP Carson Cross has assumed the role of staff ace and owns a 6-2 record and 1.50 earned run average to go with 65 strikeouts. The UConn pitching staff holds a 3.06 ERA, this best in the conference, and has held opponents to a .245 average, fourth best in the league.
Last Time Out... The Huskies overcame six runs allowed in the first two innings for an 11-6 win at Bryant on Wednesday. Trailing 6-3, UConn cut the lead to one on a two-run double down the left field line by sophomore left fielder Eric Yavarone in the fourth. Connecticut regained the lead in the sixth on a bases loaded double by Ferriter to go up 7-6. Yavarone, who drove in a career-high four runs, and Ferriter both went 3-for-5 on the day. Senior RHP Dan Feehan earned the win in 2.2 innings of relief.
Scouting the Irish... Notre Dame snapped a six-game slide with a three-game non-conference sweep of Quinnipiac last weekend and comes into Friday at 23-16 overall, following a 15-3 loss to Toledo, and 4-8 in BIG EAST play. Junior third baseman Eric Jagielo is hitting a league-best .400 with eight homers and 36 RBI. Junior first baseman Trey Mancini is second on the team at .343 and has driven in a team-high 39. On the hill, senior RHP Adam Norton holds an 8-1 record and 1.81 ERA. In the closer’s role, junior RHP Dan Slania has eight saves and a 0.29 ERA. Since joining the team after basketball season, sophomore RHP Pat Connaughton is 1-2 with a 3.32 ERA.
Last Time They Met... UConn shutout ND in the regular season finale last year, 4-0, to win a best-of-three series at home. Cross pitched 5.1 innings and struck out five in his first career start. Tim Martin went 3-for-5 with a RBI in the win. RHP David Fischer was named the BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week after a career-high eight innings and 10 K’s in the weekend opener; a 2-1 win for the Huskies.
Starting Cross... Cross’ first 16 appearances in 2012 were out of the bullpen, but each of his last 12 have been starts. When starting games, he is 7-2 with a 1.40 ERA and 80 K’s in 90.0 innings. The Huskies are 9-3 in his starts. Nationally, Cross owns the third lowest career ERA among active players with at least 75 innings pitched at 1.40.
Turn at the Top... In the last six games, UConn’s top of the order (Verdi, Ferriter, Mazzilli) have combined to hit .384 (28-for-73). The trio, the only upperclassmen starters, has combined for 15 runs, 12 RBI and eight steals over that stretch. Mazzilli (.440) and Ferriter (.407) are both over .400 in the last six games.
Up Next... In the mid-week, UConn hosts a pair of regional match-ups against intrastate rival Sacred Heart on April 30 and New England rival Holy Cross on May 1.
On the Bases... Connecticut has remained dedicated to its aggressive game plan as the Huskies have attempted 119 stolen bases to the opponents 75. UConn has totaled 93 steals, a .782 success rate, while the Huskies have thrown out only nine opposing runners on the bases. Ferriter and Mazzilli lead UConn with 23 and 21, respectively. The Huskies 93 steals are good enough for 12th in the country and 10th in steals per game, 2.27.
An Eye on the Books... Mazzilli and Ferriter sit in the top-20 of 10 major offensive categories in the UConn record book. Ferriter (261) and Mazzilli (259) have both passed George Springer (242) for second and third, respectively, in career hits. Ferriter (175) also passed Mike Nemeth (172) for second in runs against UMass (Apr. 23).
TWI(UConn)B History... The Huskies posted 15 run in both ends of a doubleheader against Georgetown at home on April 27, 2002. UConn won by scores of 15-1 and 15-7. Jesse Carlson struck out seven in a seven-inning complete game in the opener, while Mike Leonard combined to go 4-for-8 with five RBI and three runs.