BROOKLYN, N.Y. (May 26, 2007) - Bidding to become the first team in BIG EAST Tournament history to lose its first game and then go on to win the championship, the University of Connecticut baseball team fell just short of etching its name in the conference record books as the No. 8 seed Huskies fell to second-seeded Rutgers, 7-6, Saturday afternoon from KeySpan Park.
Despite the loss, UConn's appearance in the championship game marked the lowest seed in BIG EAST Tournament history to reach the final game. In addition, the 2007 league tournament featured a conference-best four total shutouts through the course of the week. UConn boasts two of the four shutouts as the Huskies blanked USF in two consecutive games Friday to reach the championship game.
UConn held a Rutgers offense that entered the championship game averaging 11.4 hits per game during the tournament to just six hits, but also committed three errors in the field. In fact, the Huskies out-hit Rutgers by an 11-6 tally.
The Huskies continued to battle and nearly completed an improbable comeback as the Huskies rallied for five runs in the top of the ninth inning. Senior first baseman Matt Untiet (Berlin, Conn.) singled through the right side to start the inning before coming around to score on the following play as junior third baseman Pat Mahoney (Des Moines, Iowa) laced a double into left field to chase starting pitcher Steve Healing. After the next Husky was retired on a groundout, senior right fielder Josh Farkes (Boston, Mass.) doubled into left-center field to drive in Mahoney. Junior center fielder Gordon Stevens (Vista, Calif.) singled to center on the next play to put runners on the corners, and both runners advanced one base on a balk. On the following play, freshman left fielder Pete Fatse (Hampden, Mass.) homered to right field to pull the Huskies within one. Sophomore second baseman Dale Brannon (St. Petersburg, Fla.) next reached with a bloop single into center field, but Scarlet Knight reliever Kevin Lillis retired the next to batters to preserve the win for Rutgers.
Backed by an early lead, Rutgers starting pitcher Steve Healing pitched eight innings and allowed three runs on seven hits to earn his 10th win of the season. Lillis earned the save for his third of the season.
Husky freshman starting pitcher Robert Van Woert (Johnson City, N.Y.) suffered the loss despite an effective outing on just three days rest. Van Woert allowed four runs (three earned) on three hits in four innings on the hill.
Rutgers (41-19) struck first in the contest as the Scarlet Knights plated three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Both BIG EAST Player of the Year Todd Frazier and second baseman Mike Bionde drew walks to open the frame. Husky starting pitcher Robert Van Woert (Johnson City, N.Y.) retired the next two hitters on fly outs to left field to keep both runners on their respective bases. On the following play, Rutgers scored its first run of the inning on a throwing error charged to Husky catcher Larry Day (Amesbury, Mass.) attempting to catch Bionde stealing second base. After first baseman Tom Edwards drew a walk to put runners on the corners, designated hitter Jon Gossard hit an RBI single into left field to score Bionde. In addition, Edwards came around to score as Husky right fielder Josh Farkes (Boston, Mass.) was charged with a fielding error.
Connecticut (34-27) answered with a run in the top of the second inning to cut the Rutgers lead to just two. Junior third baseman Pat Mahoney (Des Moines, Iowa) laced a single off Healing's glove, allowing the ball to trickle into an empty area on the infield. After taking second on a fielder's choice, Mahoney came around to score on the following play as Farkes ripped an RBI double into the right field corner.
Frazier, the 2007 BIG EAST Tournament Jack Kaiser Award Winner, put the Scarlet Knights ahead 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning with his conference-leading 22nd home run of the season. Four batters later, Edwards delivered an RBI double to deep center field to give Rutgers a four-run edge.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Rutgers tacked on another two runs on a two-run home run into left-center field from catcher Frank Meade to put the Scarlet Knights up 7-1.
Individually, Farkes paced the Huskies at the plate with a 3-for-4 showing with two RBIs, while Mahoney, Fatse and Brannon also chipped in with two hits apiece.
UConn senior first baseman Matt Untiet hit a solo home run to left field in the bottom of the ninth to give the Huskies an 8-7 walkoff victory over St. John’s in an elimination game. Matt Karl (2-2) pitched a scoreless top of the ninth to get the victory. Colin Lynch (1-1) got the loss for the Red Storm by giving up two runs in 2.2 innings. St. John’s is eliminated from the tournament and will await a possible NCAA tourney berth while UConn will play USF on Friday at 1 pm. The Huskies have to knock off USF twice tomorrow to advance to the Big East Championship game.
Rutgers 11 Villanova 0
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights got a fabulous start from Matt Giannini who pitched a complete game while scattering eleven hits as they cruised to an 11-0 victory over Villanova in an elimination game. Todd Frazier went 4-6 with two RBI and three runs scored. Villanova ends their season with a 29-25 record while Rutgers takes on Louisville at 10 am and need to beat the Cardinals twice to advance to the championship game on Saturday.
Remember, The Big East is providing free webcasts which can be accessed by clicking here.
Jim Gillin hit a solo homer in the fourth inning which proved to be the winning run as the Villanova Wildcats eliminated Notre Dame from the Big East Tournament. Villanova got a solid pitching performance from Jordan Ellis as he allowed both runs in his seven innings of work. Josh Eidell picked up the save by pitching two perfect innings including a save.
UConn 5 Pittsburgh 2
The UConn Huskies got eight strong innings from Matt Tarsi as they knocked the Pittsburgh Panthers out of the Big East Tournament. The Huskies were led on offense by Dennis Donavan who hit a two run homer in the third inning. The Panthers top offensive threat on the day was Dan Lopez who went 3-4.
USF 2 St. John’s 0
Chris Delaney held the Red Storm to only two hits in 6.1 innings as his USF Bulls picked up a 2-0 victory over St. John’s in the Big East Tournament. Dexter Butler and Addison Maruszak each got an RBI to account for all the runs in the game. Brendan Monaghan got two hits for St. John’s as he was the only player in the game to have multiple hits.
Louisville 8 Rutgers 1
Louisville starter Justin Marks gave up only 1 run in six innings to lead his Cardinals to an 8-1 victory over Rutgers. Kyle Hollander and Trystan Magnuson combined to pitch three scoreless innings of relief. Louisville was led on offense by Chris Dominguez who went 3-5 with 2 RBI.
The Big East is continuing their free webcast of the championships which can be viewed by clicking here.
The Big East Conference Tournament starts on Tuesday in Brooklyn NY. The top 8 teams are invited to the tournament and split into two different double elimination brackets. The two winners will meet on Saturday for a winner take all championship game. The full brackets are available here. The Big East Tournament starts at 10 am on Tuesday with Louisville taking on Villanova. At 1 pm, Rutgers will take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The last two games on the opening day will take place at 5 pm with Pittsburgh playing University of South Florida and the number 1 seeded St. John’s Red Storm playing UConn at 8 pm in the nightcap. CSTV has provided a full preview of the tournament which is available at this link.
The entire tournament can be watched for free by clicking here. Thanks to the Big East for providing free video of the tournament.
The UConn Huskies edged Brown on Wednesday 6-5 in a game which was moved from Providence to Storrs with tough weather in Providence over the last few days. Mark Burnett hit an RBI double in the bottom of the eighth inning to drive home the winning run in Ted O’Reilly. Freshman pitcher Robert Van Woert picked up his fifth win of the season by going four innings while allowing two runs on two hits. Brown used six different pitchers as this was the first mid-week game in three weeks so some pitchers needed some work before their key weekend series against Harvard. Paul Costa ended up getting the loss for the Bears to drop his record to 1-2 on the season.
The UMass Minutemen picked up a 6-4 extra inning victory over UConn on Tuesday. Andy Tuetken led off the top of the tenth inning with a double to left field. Bryan Adamski followed with a sacrifice bunt but the Erik Turgeon of UConn threw the ball into right field which allowed Tuetken to score and Adamski ended up at third base. Ryan Franczek followed the error by hitting a sacrifice fly to center field which gave the Minutemen an insurance run. Adamski pitched the final four innings for UMass to up his record to 2-0 while Will Musson picks up his first career loss for UConn. UMass will be back in action on Friday when they host George Washington while UConn will host URI on Wednesday.
The University of Connecticut had Robert Van Woert and Will Musson combined on a two hitter as the Huskies picked up a 3-1 victory over the Hartford Hawks. Van Woert upped his record to 4-1 while Hartford reliever Zach Stefka picked up his first decision of the year to drop to 0-1. UConn will be back in action on Thursday when they visit Rutgers in a Big East match-up. The Hartford Hawks will head to UMBC for an America East series that starts on Friday.
The UConn Huskies won their second straight game with a 4-2 victory on Monday over the Boston College Eagles. Brandon McGinn started for the Huskies and went seven strong innings while only giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits. Eric Campbell and Johnny Ayers were the only Eagles to have RBIs as each had one on the game. Matt Karl and Harold Brantley led the Husky offense with two hits a piece. BC will return to action with a game on Tuesday with Northeastern and UConn will head to Hartford also on Tuesday.