Pirates put Huskies to sleep
Anyone who believed lightning could not strike the same place twice was left shaking their head in disbelief on Thursday as the Seton Hall baseball team knocked off the Connecticut Huskies in the Big East Tournament’s Second Round by a final score of 4-3.
The come from behind, 12 inning victory was the Pirates’ second upset in as many days and gives them a place in the Semifinals on Saturday.
Connecticut starter Greg Nappo hurled seven innings, allowing just two unearned runs and striking out three batters. Seton Hall starter sophomore Jon Prosinski was determined to go punch for punch, however, as he also hurled seven innings, allowing two runs and striking out four Huskies.
The Huskies’ offense was led by the combined efforts of second baseman LJ Mazzilli, son of former baseball player Lee Mazzilli, and first baseman Mike Nemeth who combined for seven of Connecticut’s 14 hits and drove in two runs.
Two of Seton Hall’s four runs came off the bat of senior outfielder Will Walsh.. Walsh, who was a participant in the tournament’s Home Run Derby this past week, finished the game with three hits and scored the tying run in the 12th inning.
In the 8th inning, with the Huskies up two runs, Seton Hall received a spark when sophomore Mike Genovese drove in the Pirates’ first run. With one out and the bases loaded, Genovese grounded out to short stop but senior Frank Esposito scored to cut the deficit in half.
With runners on the corners and one out, senior Sean Gusrang stepped to the plate and roped a single to right field on the first pitch he saw, scoring sophomore Mike Betz from third.
Both teams played to a stalemate for three innings before the Huskies struck back in their half of the 12th inning. Third baseman Ryan Fuller hit an infield single with two outs before stealing second base and moving to third on an errant throw by Esposito.
Catcher Doug Elliot then singled up the middle to give the Huskies the 3-2 lead, putting them just three outs away from the Semifinals.
The Connecticut lead was short lived, however, as the Pirates refused to go down without a fight. Will Walsh led off the inning with a bunt single and after back to back walks by Michael Betz and freshman Zack Granite, the bases were full for sophomore Mike Genovese.
After working the count to three balls and one strike, Granite was hit by a pitch from Huskies reliever Dan Feehan which forced in the tying run from third base.
Feehan looked as if he would quietly be able to quell the Pirate bats for at least one more half inning when he got Sean Gusrang to ground into a fielder’s choice. However with two outs and the bases still full of Pirates, Feehan lost control and walked sophomore Dale Anderson on six pitches, bringing in Granite for the winning run.
Seton Hall, who has not won the Big East Tournament since 2001, will play in the Semifinals this Saturday, May 28 against the winner of Game 10 between Connecticut and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
John Lopiano can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org