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Big East Weekend Preview (April 8th-10th)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. –With two weeks of conference action in the books, eight teams are stacked up in the middle of the standings with 3-3 records. Connecticut holds a one-game lead over Louisville for first place in the conference, with the Huskies standing at 5-1 in league play this season.  Here is a look at the six weekend series.

Villanova (13-15, 2-4) at Pittsburgh (16-11, 3-3)

Friday, April 8, 3 p.m.: VU – LHP Kyle Helisek (0-3, 5.12 ERA) vs. Pitt – RHP Corey Baker (2-1, 4.91 ERA)

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Sat., April 9, 1 p.m.: VU – RHP Kyle McMyne (3-4, 5.18 ERA) vs. Pitt – LHP Matt Ianazzo (2-2, 2.18 ERA)

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Sunday, April 10, Noon: VU – TBA vs. Pitt – TBA

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·         Pitt leads the all-time series 30-29 over Villanova. Last year, the Panthers swept the Wildcats at Villanova with scores of 8-5, 12-7 and 5-3.

·         Pitt senior pitcher Corey Baker needs just one more victory to become the all-time wins leader in program history. Baker stands tied for first with 21 career wins. The record, previously set by Tedde Campbell in 1994 and 1995, has been uncontested for over 15 years.

·         The Panthers are tied for third in hitting in the BIG EAST in league games, batting .303. Senior Kevan Smith leads the league with a .408 batting average.

·         Pitt senior David Chester ranks second in the conference with 32 RBI and is tied for the league lead with six home runs.

·         Villanova’s pitching staff leads the BIG EAST with 214 strikeouts. The staff is led by Kyle McMyne, who leads the league with 52 strikeouts and ranks 10th in conference in opposing batting average at .236.

·         Outfield Matt Fleishman leads the Wildcats’ offense. He ranks 11th in the BIG EAST with a .342 batting average. Fleishman has at least one hit in nine of his last ten games, including five hits in his last 13 at bats.

·         Villanova defeated La Salle on April 6 in the Liberty Bell Classic to move into the title game of the tournament. The Wildcats will take on Delaware at Citizens Bank Park, the home of the Philadelphia Phillies, on April 12.

Connecticut (15-10-1, 5-1) at Notre Dame (12-14-1, 3-3)

Friday, April 8, 5:30 p.m.: UConn – RHP Matt Barnes (5-2, 1.00 ERA) vs. ND – RHP Brian Dupra (2-2, 1.70 ERA)

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Sat., April 9, 2 p.m.: UConn – LHP Elliott Glynn (1-4, 3.51 ERA) vs. ND – RHP Cole Johnson (2-4, 2.17 ERA)

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Sunday, April 10, 1 p.m.: UConn – LHP Greg Nappo (3-1, 2.67 ERA) vs. ND – RHP Todd Miller (2-2, 3.88 ERA)

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·         Notre Dame owns a 23-11-1 record against Connecticut in a series that dates back to 1996. The two teams have not met since 2009, when the Huskies took two of three from the Irish at Notre Dame.

·         Connecticut enters the weekend riding a five-game winning streak. The Huskies defeated non-conference foes Hartford and Massachusetts with a sweep of BIG EAST rival St. John’s sandwiched in the middle.

·         Connecticut’s three starting pitchers this weekend each have 14 or more career wins, 150 or more career strikeouts, and 189 or more career innings pitched.

·         The Huskies and Irish ranked second and third respectively in the BIG EAST in team ERA. Connecticut has notched an ERA of 2.78 compared to 2.80 for Notre Dame.

·         Friday’s starting pitchers are two of the best in the BIG EAST. Connecticut’s Matt Barnes ranks second in the conference in ERA at 1.00 to go with a .147 opponent batting average and 49 strikeouts. Notre Dame’s Brian Dupra ranks fourth in the conference in ERA at 1.70 while striking out 47 batters. Dupra has yet to allow an earned run in league play over his first two starts.

·         Freshman Trey Mancini leads the Irish with a .326 batting average. He also leads the team with four home runs and 17 RBI.

·         The Irish have already played in 12 games decided by one run including six of their last nine. Notre Dame is 5-7 in one-run games.

St. John’s (14-12, 3-3) at Seton Hall (13-13, 3-3)

Friday, April 8, 3 p.m.: STJ – RHP Kyle Hansen (3-3, 3.15 ERA) vs. SHU – RHP Frank Morris (0-0, 3.26 ERA)

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Sat., April 9, 1 p.m.: STJ – LHP Kevin Kilpatrick (2-2, 4.78 ERA) vs. SHU – RHP Joe DiRocco (4-0, 1.26 ERA)

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Sunday, April 10, Noon: STJ – LHP Brenan Lobban (3-1, 4.46 ERA) vs. SHU – RHP Jon Prosinski (1-3, 4.62 ERA)

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·         Seton Hall holds a 45-44 advantage over St. John’s in the all-time series. The series dates back to 1973. Last year, St. John’s swept the Pirates in three games in Queens, N.Y., by scores of 10-4, 6-1 and 9-4.

·         Seton Hall’s Saturday starter, Joe DiRocco, ranks third in the BIG EAST with a 1.24 ERA. DiRocco is one of only two BIG EAST starters without a loss this season (Louisville’s Justin Amlung is the other).

·         The Pirates are coming off a season high 13-run performance against Fairleigh Dickinson on April 6.

·         Seton Hall’s pitching staff ranks fourth in the BIG EAST with a 2.81 ERA. The staff also is second in the league with 200 strikeouts.

·         After posting a seven-game winning streak, the Red Storm have dropped four of their last six games including being swept by Connecticut in BIG EAST play last weekend.

·         St. John’s struggled to get its offense going against the Huskies, scoring eight runs over the three games with five coming in Saturday’s contest. The Red Storm are hitting .226 in conference play compared to .283 against non-conference opponents.

·         St. John’s Friday starter Kyle Hansen is one of the best strikeout pitchers in the BIG EAST, ranking fourth with 46 strikeouts. He has 13 total strikeouts in 13.2 innings against league opponents.

Louisville (18-10, 4-2) at Cincinnati (14-12, 3-3)

Friday, April 8, 6:30 p.m.: UofL –  RHP Matt Koch (3-3, 2.95 ERA) vs. Cin – RHP Dan Jensen (2-2, 2.14 ERA)

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Sat., April 9, 4 p.m.: UofL – RHP Justin Amlung (6-0, 0.92 ERA) vs. Cin – RHP Andrew Strenge (1-3, 3.41 ERA)

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Sunday, April 10, 1 p.m.: UofL – Mike Nastold (3-2, 1.74 ERA) vs. Cin – RHP Nick Johnson (3-1, 3.44 ERA)

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·         Louisville leads the all-time series 85-79 over the Bearcats. The teams last met in the first round of the 2009 BIG EAST Championship with Louisville taking a 12-2 win in seven innings.

·         The Cardinals are led by the top pitching staff in the conference. Louisville leads the league with a 2.45 ERA, while striking out 193 batters in 250 innings.

·         Louisville’s Saturday starter Justin Amlung is one of only two BIG EAST starters without a loss this season (the other is Seton Hall’s Joe DiRocco). Amlung leads the conference with six wins while also ranking first with a 0.92 ERA and second with a .182 opponent batting average.

·         Louisville is first in the conference in league play with five home runs and is tied for first with 35 RBI.

·         The Bearcats are riding a four-game winning streak after sweeping Georgetown and beating Morehead State in a midweek contest.

·         Cincinnati Sophomore outfield Jake Proctor is a perfect 11-of-11 on stolen base attempts this season. He is the only BIG EAST player with at-least 10 stolen base attempts who has not been caught. He leads the team with a .347 batting average and is tied for first in home runs with three.

·         UC Junior OF/C Braden Kline saw his 16-game hitting streak end on Sunday at Georgetown.

·         Bearcat Friday starter Dan Jensen is coming off a complete game effort against Georgetown, where he allowed just one unearned run on his way to the win. Jensen was named BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week for his effort.

Rutgers (11-16, 3-3) at USF (13-15, 3-3)

Friday, April 8, 7 p.m.: RU – RHP Tyler Gebler (2-3, 3.08 ERA) vs. USF – RHP Randy Fontanez (3-2, 2.90 ERA)

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Sat., April 9, 7 p.m.: RU – LHP Rob Smorol (1-4, 4.95 ERA) vs. USF – RHP Kyle Eastham (3-2, 3.00 ERA)

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Sunday, April 10, 1 p.m.: RU – RHP Nathaniel Roe (3-4, 4.53 ERA) vs. USF – TBA

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·         Rutgers holds a 10-5 advantage over USF in the all-time series. The Scarlet Knights are also 7-5 against the Bulls in BIG EAST play.

·         Rutgers swept USF last year when the Bulls visited Piscataway. However, USF swept Rutgers in the Scarlet Knights’ last trip to Tampa.

·         Senior Michael Lang leads the Scarlet Knights with a .347 batting average, including a .412 average in RU’s six league contests.

·         The Scarlet Knights starters were strong in the series against Seton Hall. Tyler Gebler, Rob Smorol and Nathaniel Roe combined to allow just five earned runs in 22.2 innings pitched. Gebler tossed a complete game, allowing just one run on five hits to grab the win.

·         USF’s Friday starter Randy Fontanez has proven to have some of the best control of any pitcher in the country. Fontanez has walked just two batters in 49.2 innings while recorded 38 strikeouts.

·         The Bulls took two of three from Villanova in conference play last weekend, outscoring the Wildcats 20-6.

·         The Bulls’ pitchers notched a 1.73 ERA in three games against the Wildcats. Starting pitchers Randy Fontanez and Kyle Eastham combined to throw 15 innings, allowing two runs on nine hits and striking out seven.

Georgetown (18-13, 1-5) at West Virginia (17-14, 3-3)

Friday, April 8, 7:05 p.m.: GU – Charles Steinman (1-2, 2.75 ERA) vs. WVU – LHP Marshall Thompson (3-0, 4.81 ERA)

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Sat., April 9, 3 p.m.: GU – TBA  vs. WVU – TBA

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Sunday, April 10, Noon.: GU – Will Harris (1-1, 3.50 ERA)  vs. WVU – TBA

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·         Georgetown holds a 29-28 edge over the Mountaineers in the all-time series, however WVU is 26-9 against the Hoyas in BIG EAST play. The teams first met in 1902.

·         The Hoyas have lost their five league games by a total of seven runs, dropping three one-run decisions.

·         GU’s Friday starter Charles Steinman has a 0.82 ERA in conference play, allowing just one earned run in 11 innings pitched.

·         Georgetown outfielder Rand Ravnaas is third in the BIG EAST with a .379 average and leads the league in stolen bases (19) and total bases (76).

·         The Hoyas and Mountaineers are first and second in the league respectively in runs scored.

·         West Virginia is the top hitting team in the BIG EAST with a .312 average.  Three players, including Jeremy Gum, Brady Wilson and Dan Dibartolomeo, rank in the top 12 of the BIG EAST in batting average.

·         WVU is also tops in the league in slugging percentage at .451.

·         The Mountaineers’ pitching staff has struggled this season, ranking last in both ERA (5.70) and opponent batting average (.287).

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