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2013 Preseason Big East Coaches Poll Released


BigEastLogoPROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Louisville Cardinals, who tied for the 2012 BIG EAST regular-season title, have been tabbed as the favorites in 2013 by the league’s 11 head coaches.

The Cardinals, who advanced to the NCAA Championship for the seventh time in 2012, reaching the final of the Tucson Regional, received eight first-place votes and 98 points in the coaches’ preseason poll. St. John’s, with 82 points, edged Notre Dame (81) for second place.

The coaches also chose Connecticut second baseman L.J. Mazzilli as the BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year and named Seton Hall righthander Jon Prosinski the BIG EAST Preseason Pitcher of the Year.

Louisville and St. John’s both reached the NCAA tournament last season as the Cardinals fell to eventual national champion Arizona in regional play, while the Red Storm fell to the Wildcats in the Super Regional round. The two BIG EAST entrants were a combined 5-0 against teams other than Arizona in last year’s NCAA Championship.

Louisville, which has won three BIG EAST regular-season titles in the past four years, had four players named to the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team, as chosen by the coaches. Sophomore Jared Ruxer, who was the 2012 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, went 8-3 with a 3.38 earned-run average last season, while junior Jeff Thompson turned in a 9-4 mark with a 4.00 ERA. The Cardinals also placed outfielder Adam Engel, who had a BIG EAST-leading 37 stolen bases in 2012, and designated hitter Jeff Gardner (.299, 2 HR, 34 RBI) on the preseason team.

St. John’s, which has won a record seven BIG EAST championships and has reached the NCAA tournament five times in the past six seasons, edged Notre Dame for second place in the preseason poll. The Red Storm tied Louisville for the BIG EAST regular-season title last year before capturing the tournament crown in Clearwater, Fla.  St. John’s went on to win the Chapel Hill Regional of the NCAA tournament before falling to Arizona in Super Regional play. The Red Storm placed pitcher Sean Hagan (8-2, 2.72 ERA) and third-baseman Sean O’Hare (.346, 3 HR, 42 RBI) on the Preseason All-BIG EAST team.

Notre Dame was picked third in the preseason poll with 81 points. The Irish advanced to the semifinal round of the 2012 BIG EAST Championship and return three players who were named to the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team. Closer Dan Slania led the conference with 12 saves, while first-baseman Trey Mancini (.317, 12 HR, 45 RBI) and third-baseman Eric Jagielo (.310, 13 HR, 43 RBI) provide punch at the top of the order. Mancini was a unanimous selection to the preseason team. Slania and Jagielo, meanwhile, were both named to the Louisville Slugger Preseason All-America Third Team.

Connecticut had 74 points to finish fourth in the preseason poll. The Huskies reached the BIG EAST Championship semifinals last year before dropping a pair of one-run decisions to USF. Mazzilli – a ninth-round draft choice of the Minnesota Twins in 2012 – decided to return to the Huskies for his senior year and has been tabbed as a Louisville Slugger Preseason All-America First Team selection in addition to his BIG EAST honors. Mazzilli hit .339 with nine home runs and 38 RBI last season.

USF was chosen fifth in the preseason poll with 67 points. The Bulls, who dropped their first game in last year’s BIG EAST Championship, made a dramatic run through the elimination bracket to reach the championship game, where St. John’s scored a 7-3 win. USF looks for another long run through the tournament behind the bat of outfielder James Ramsay, who hit .328 with two home runs and 32 RBI in 2012.

Seton Hall had 52 points in the preseason poll to finish sixth. The Pirates, who last won the BIG EAST title in 2011, will ride the right arm of Prosinski – a senior who earned All-BIG EAST First Team accolades last year as Seton Hall’s Friday starter. Prosinski went 9-3 with a 3.52 ERA last season and did not allow a home run in 94.2 innings of work. He was a unanimous Preseason All-BIG EAST Preseason Team choice in addition to his Preseason Pitcher of the Year selection.

Pittsburgh was seventh in the preseason poll with 46 points, followed by Rutgers (43), Cincinnati (30), Georgetown (18) and Villanova (14). Rutgers placed catcher Jeff Melillo (.311, 4 HR, 30 RBI) on the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team, while Cincinnati outfielder Justin Glass (.366, 3 HR, 26 RBI) and Villanova shortstop Tyler Sciacca (.359, 1 HR, 39 RBI) also earned preseason nods by the coaches.

The 2013 baseball season begins Feb. 15. The first weekend of league play is March 22-24. The 2013 BIG EAST Baseball Championship will return to Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., May 22-26, with the championship game to be televised on ESPNU.

2013 Preseason BIG EAST Baseball Coaches’ Poll

1. Louisville (8) 98
2. St. John’s (3) 82
3. Notre Dame 81
4. Connecticut 74
5. USF 67
6. Seton Hall 52
7. Pittsburgh 46
8. Rutgers 43
9. Cincinnati 30
10. Georgetown 18
11. Villanova 14


Preseason BIG EAST Player of the Year:

L.J. Mazzilli, 2B, Connecticut


Preseason BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year:

Jon Prosinski, RHP, Seton Hall


2013 Preseason All-BIG EAST Team

Pos. Name, Class, School Key 2012 Stats
P Jared Ruxer, So., Louisville 8-3, 3.38 ERA, 77.1 IP, 32 K, 15 BB, .262 OBA
P Jeff Thompson, Jr., Louisville 9-4, 4.00 ERA, 78.2 IP, 73 K, 38 BB, .263 OBA
P Sean Hagan, Sr., St. John’s 8-2, 2.72 ERA, 102.2 IP, 66 K, 23 BB, .231 OBA
P Jon Prosinksi, Sr., Seton Hall * 9-3, 3.52 ERA, 94.2 IP, 73 K, 19 BB, .288 OBA
RP Dan Slania, Jr., Notre Dame 3-0, 2.03 ERA, 12 SV, 31.0 IP, 37 K, 12 BB
C Jeff Melillo, Sr., Rutgers .311, 4 HR, 30 RBI
1B Trey Mancini, Jr., Notre Dame * .317, 12 HR, 45 RBI
2B L.J. Mazzilli, Sr., Connecticut .339, 9 HR, 38 RBI, 16 SB
SS Tyler Sciacca, Sr., Villanova .359, 1 HR, 39 RBI, 17 SB, .980 FLD%
3B Eric Jagielo, Jr., Notre Dame .310, 13 HR, 43 RBI
3B Sean O’Hare, Sr., St. John’s .346, 3 HR, 42 RBI
OF Justin Glass, Jr., Cincinnati .366, 3 HR, 26 RBI, 15 SB
OF Adam Engel, Jr., Louisville .308, 1 HR, 18 RBI, 37 SB
OF James Ramsay, Jr.. USF .328, 2 HR, 32 RBI, 14 SB
DH Jeff Gardner, Jr., Louisville .299, 2 HR, 34 RBI


* – unanimous selection

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