May 14, 2014
STORRS, Conn. -- With three regular season games remaining, the UConn baseball team (24-28, 7-13 The American) looks to clinch a trip to the postseason when it hosts UCF (33-20, 16-5 The American) for a three-game set beginning on Thursday, May 15. The Huskies and Knights will play a doubleheader starting at noon on Thursday before playing on Friday at a time and location to be determined.
Also during the UCF series, UConn will hold its annual Strike Out Cancer game to raise money for cancer research. To join UConn baseball in the cause, click HERE. Prior to Friday's contest, the Huskies will hold Senior Day to honor the careers of Anthony Marzi, Tom Verdi and Brian Ward.
Looking to Turn It Around... After dropping three games to conference foe Houston by an 18-7 margin over the weekend, the Huskies split a Tuesday doubleheader with Rhode Island at Dodd Stadium. Senior lefty Brian Ward dazzled in game one, tossing his second consecutive complete game and becoming the first Husky player to record a complete game shutout since Matt Barnes in 2011. Bryan Daniello led the offense, collecting two hits and driving in a pair in the 7-0 Husky victory. It marked the first UConn victory over URI since the 2011 season. Connecticut dropped a heartbreaker in game two, giving up a three-run lead in the ninth and falling 12-9 in 13 innings to the Rams.
About the Huskies... UConn holds a 24-28 record in the 2014 season, including a 7-13 record in conference play. The Huskies are trying to avoid their first losing season since 2009 when they finished 27-28. Four of UConn's nine starters have recorded batting averages that top .270, led by Bobby Melley, who checks in at .356 and Blake Davey, who is hitting at a .326 clip. The UConn starting rotation, which is anchored by upperclassmen Jordan Tabakman and Anthony Marzi, has helped propel the Husky staff to a 3.00 overall ERA. UConn's 33-man roster boasts just 10 total upperclassman; a list that also features just three seniors.
Scouting UCF... The Knights, who boast the conference's best league record at 16-5, are 33-20 overall and are winners of four of their last five. UCF has three players with batting averages above .300, anchored by James Vasquez who also holds the team lead in home runs (6), RBI (46), and slugging (.492). On the hill, Eric Skoglund holds an impressive 9-1 record with a 1.72 ERA in 99.1 innings. The Knights staff boasts a 3.21 overall ERA.
All-time vs. the Knights... UConn and UCF met for the first time last season with the Knights escaping with a 7-3 victory in the first game of the 2013 UCF Tournament on Feb. 22. Eric Yavarone reached base safely in three of four at-bats but the Huskies were felled by a six-run fifth inning.
Warding Off the Opposition... With a second straight complete game against URI on Tuesday, Ward became the first UConn hurler to finish off back-to-back games since Marzi accomplished the feat in 2011. The senior lefty now boasts a 2.87 overall ERA and is one of eight Huskies with a BAA of under .250.
Closing in on History... 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 289.1 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 three more Ks to tie Brian Herosian (1971-73) for fifth-most in UConn history (214).
One Win* Away From Clearwater... Through seven weeks of league play, UConn sits in sixth place with 7-13 record, trailing conference leader Louisville by nine games in the loss column. Eight of the nine teams in the conference will qualify for the conference tournament. The Huskies can clinch a spot in the tournament with one victory over the Knights this weekend along with a loss by Cincinnati to Louisville.