May 1, 2014
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Returning to conference play this weekend, the UConn baseball team (21-23, 5-9 The American) will travel to Memphis (24-22, 5-10 The American) for a three-game set with the Tigers. Game one is set for Friday night at 7:30 p.m. ET, followed by a 3 p.m. start on Saturday before game three at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Rough Patch… After winning three straight midweek games by a combined 22-to-9 margin, the Huskies have dropped their last four contests and have scored just seven runs over the stretch. UConn was swept by then-ranked No. 12 Louisville over the weekend and then fell to UMass on Monday. In the first game against the Cardinals, senior LHP Anthony Marzi fired six innings of two-run ball but the Connecticut offense mustered just six hits and fell, 2-0. The bats remained quiet on Saturday, pushing across just one run on seven hits and falling, 6-1. On Saturday, the Huskies dropped the series finale, 8-2, despite two-hit days from Nico Darras and Bobby Melley. The UConn struggles continued on Monday afternoon in Amherst, Mass. when the Minutemen handed the Huskies their fourth straight loss, 5-4.
About the Huskies… UConn holds a 21-23 record in the 2014 season, including a 5-9 record in conference play. Three of UConn’s nine starters have recorded batting averages that top .270, led by Bobby Melley, who checks in at .377 and Blake Davey, who is hitting at a .340 clip. The UConn starting rotation, which is anchored by upperclassmen Jordan Tabakman and Marzi, has helped propel the Husky staff to a 2.86 overall ERA. UConn’s 33-man roster boasts just 10 total upperclassman; a list that also features just three seniors.
Scouting Memphis… Despite holding just a 5-10 record in conference play, the Tigers are 24-22 this season and 15-8 at home. Kane Barrow has been Memphis’ most consistent player in 2014, checking in with a team-best .317 batting average to go along with three homers and 23 RBI. The Tigers have three players with at least 11 steals and hold a 62.8 steal percentage (61-of-97). On the hill, Caleb Wallingford has been one of the American’s top pitchers, sporting a stellar 1.02 ERA and .190 BAA with 63 strikeouts in 70.1 innings of work. Overall, the Tigers hold a 3.66 ERA with 292 punch-outs in 418.1 IP.
All-time vs. the Tigers… Memphis and UConn have squared off just twice in the past, with the Huskies winning both matchups. The last showdown came in the 2005 season when UConn handed current New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski the loss in a 3-1 game on March 11.
Program Greats… With seven strikeouts against Temple on April 18, Marzi became the seventh player in UConn history to amass 200 career strikeouts. Currently, the senior LHP ranks second all-time in total innings pitched with 274.1 and has a shot to threaten Greg Nappo’s (2007-11) program record of 311.1. With 14 victories to his name, Marzi needs just one more W to crack into the top-20 at Connecticut. The lefty also needs just 10 more Ks to tie Brian Herosian (1971-73) for fifth-most in UConn history (214).
Conference Leaders… Melley and Davey have been two of the league’s most prolific hitters this season. The pair checks in at No. 1 and No. 4 in The American in batting average and on-base percentage and are both featured in the top-10 in hits, RBI, slugging percentage and total bases. The sluggers have anchored the middle of Connecticut’s order, accounting for 165 of the Huskies’ 531 total bases (31.1 percent) and 12 of UConn’s 18 round-trippers (66.7 percent).
Dialing It Up… Patrick Ruotolo has quickly become one of the Huskies most trusted bullpen options in his freshman campaign. Ruotolo is tied with David Mahoney for a team-best 19 appearances and boasts the lowest ERA (1.53) on any Husky pitcher with more than 10 innings pitched. He is the only hurler on the staff to average more than one strikeout per inning pitched (1.16).
National Rankings... Freshman RHP Andrew Zapata ranks 12th in the nation with 5.37 hits allowed per nine innings. The Staten Island, N.Y. native also holds the lowest WHIP on the Husky squad (1.17). At the dish, Melley checks in at No. 8 in the country with his .500 OBP and is also 44th among all hitters with his .377 average. UConn as a team is 28th overall with a 2.86 ERA, while Jack Sundberg is 25th nationally with 21 stolen bases.
UConn returns home after the Memphis series for a conference set against nationally ranked Houston. The Huskies and Cougars will play a doubleheader on Saturday, May 10 and again on Sunday, May 11.