INTERVIEW WITH ZACH GRANITE
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Centerfielder Zach Granite went 3-for-4 with two RBI from the leadoff position to lift Seton Hall to a 12-2 win against Connecticut Saturday afternoon in the semifinal round of the BIG EAST Baseball Championship at Bright House Field.
The win sends fifth-seeded Seton Hall to the BIG EAST Championship final for the first time since 2001 and the seventh time in tournament history. The Pirates will play for their third BIG EAST title, having previously won the tournament in 1987 and 2001, and will face the winner of Saturday evening's semifinal matchup between St. John's and Louisville.
Top-seeded Connecticut, which was making its fourth appearance in the BIG EAST semifinals in the last five years, was eliminated with its second loss of the bracket. The game ended after eight innings due to the 10-run rule.
The Pirates had 15 hits and were helped by five Connecticut errors to extend their winning streak to seven games. Second baseman Mike Genovese also had three hits and two RBI as eight of the nine Seton Hall batters finished with at least one hit.
While Seton Hall's offense was effective from the outset, pitchers Brian Gilbert and George Fernandez kept Connecticut's bats quiet. Gilbert allowed four hits and two runs (one earned) with three strikeouts in 5.1 innings to get the win (2-3). Fernandez worked out of a bases-loaded situation in the sixth and allowed just two hits with two strikeouts in 2.2 innings to get his second save.
Connecticut took an early 1-0 lead as LJ Mazzilli led off the bottom of the first inning with a base hit and took second when the ball was misplayed in the outfield. Mazzilli scored on back-to-back groundouts to put the Huskies on the board.
The Pirates tied it in the top of the third when Zach Granite led off with a double and came home on a base hit by Mike Genovese. Frank Esposito's RBI single in the top of the fourth gave the Pirates the lead and Seton Hall added two more in the fifth, building a 4-1 advantage on base hits by Giuseppe Papaccio and Will Walsh.
Connecticut got one back in the bottom of the sixth when George Springer scored on the back end of a grounder to short. But Seton Hall answered with a six-run seventh inning in which 11 men came to the plate and all of the runs came with two outs. The decisive hit came from Granite, whose two-run double to right-center gave the Pirates a 9-2 lead.
Walsh scored three runs and was 2-for-4 with two RBI on the day for Seton Hall. Connecticut starting pitcher Bob Van Woert took his first loss of the year, falling to 4-1 after he allowed four runs (two earned) and six hits in 4.2 innings.