UConn Reaches Big East Final For Fourth Time In Six Years


CLEARWATER, Fla. -  Jordan Tabakman worked seven strong innings on the mound and Connecticut picked up its third straight one-run victory as the Huskies edged Rutgers 2-1 Saturday in the semifinal round of the Big East Baseball Championship at Bright House Field.
The Huskies, seeded No. 8 in the eight-team field, advance to the Big East Championship final for the fourth time in six years. UConn will face No. 7-seeded Notre Dame for the title Sunday at noon ET (ESPNU). It will be the first matchup between the Nos. 7 and 8 seeds in Big East Championship history as the Huskies join the 2007 UConn squad as the only No. 8 seeds to reach the championship game.
UConn second baseman L.J. Mazzilli had the only extra-base hit of the game as his RBI double in the first inning scored Tom Verdi, who led off with a base hit. Mazzilli came around to score on a wild pitch to give the Huskies a 2-0 lead, which turned out to be all the runs they would need.
Rutgers got one back in the top of the second inning on an RBI single by Brian O'Grady. But the Scarlet Knights missed an opportunity to get more runs when Lou Clemente grounded out to first and Charlie Law was thrown out at home trying to score from third on the play.
Tabakman (6-2) took over from there as he retired eight straight batters at one point and finished with six strikeouts while allowing six hits without walking a batter. He threw 99 pitches, including 65 for strikes. The UConn bullpen worked two shutout innings, with Pat Butler turning in his fourth save of the season and his second of the tournament.
First baseman Bobby Melley went 2-for-3 for UConn, while catcher Jeff Melillo was 2-for-4 and O'Grady 2-for-3 for the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers starter Rob Corsi turned in a solid outing, working seven innings and allowing two runs (one earned) with two strikeouts and one walk. Corsi fell to 3-4.
UConn will make its eighth appearance in the Big East Championship final Sunday as the Huskies look for their first title since 1994. The Huskies will face a Notre Dame squad that won all three regular-season meetings in late April.