PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The University Connecticut clinched its first BIG EAST baseball regular-season title with a 7-5 win over Louisville in the first game of a doubleheader in Storrs, Conn., on Saturday. The Huskies will be the No. 1 seed at the 2011 BIG EAST Championship held on May 25-29 at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla.
The Cardinals (25-26, 11-12 BIG EAST) took an early 3-0 lead, scoring three runs in the top of the fourth. Steward Ijames notched an RBI and scored on a wild pitch in the frame. Connecticut responded in the bottom of the inning when George Springer launched a two-run home run to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Billy Ferriter tied the game for the Huskies in the bottom of the fifth, slapping an RBI single through the right side to knot the contest at 3-3. After the teams traded runs in the sixth, Cade Stallings gave Louisville a 5-4 advantage in the top of the seventh with a solo home run to left.
Trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Connecticut (36-13-1, 20-3 BIG EAST) tallied three runs to take a 7-5 lead. Ferriter once again tied the game with an RBI single up the middle, bringing home Tim Martin. Two batters later, John Andreoli drove in what would prove to be the game-winning run with a base hit to score Ferriter. L.J. Mazzilli gave the Huskies some insurance after coming home on a wild pitch later in the inning.
Greg Nappo earned the win, allowing five runs (two earned) in seven innings of work to improve to 8-2 on the season. Kevin Vance picked-up the save in relief.
The Huskies have finished second twice in the regular season (2006 and 2010), but had never won the title outright. The only first-place finish for Connecticut was when the Huskies won the North Division of the conference in during the 1985 inaugural season.
The BIG EAST Baseball Championship is a double-elimination tournament featuring the top eight teams in the conference standings. The 2011 Championship will be held at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., on May 25-29.