Scouting UConn: two first-rounders, strong pitching, aggressive baserunning

Big East MVP George Springer, pitcher-of-year Matt Barnes lead second-seeded Huskies

Big East Conference player of the year George Springer (UConn photo)

Big East Conference player of the year George Springer (UConn photo)

Second-seeded Connecticut enters the Clemson Regional with a 41-17-1 record and is ranked as high as No. 16 nationally. The Huskies are coming off a 2-2 showing in last week’s Big East tournament.

Connecticut won the Big East regular-season title with a 22-5 regular-season record and won 20 of 26 games on opponents’ home fields during the course of the season. The Huskies, who are making their 17th NCAA tournament appearance, finished the season by winning nine straight weekend series in conference play.

Connecticut is led by eighth-year Head Coach Jim Penders, who was just named Big East Conference coach of the year for the second year in a row.

Connecticut is hitting .306 with a .424 slugging percentage and a .382 on-base percentage. The Huskies have totaled 119 doubles, 15 triples, 32 home runs, and are averaging 6.3 runs per game. UConn baserunners have stolen 122 bases in 160 attempts, and the team has a .961 fielding percentage.

Big East Conference player of the year George Springer is hitting .361 with 22 doubles, two triples, 12 homers, 74 RBIs, 53 runs, a .462 on-base percentage, and 31 stolen bases. Mike Nemeth is batting .351 with 46 RBIs and a .461 on-base percentage thanks to 44 walks and five hit-by-pitches against only 18 strikeouts. L.J. Mazzilli, the son of former Major Leaguer Lee Mazzilli, is hitting .335 with 21 doubles and 19 steals.

Nick Ahmed is batting .327 with 21 steals. Ryan Fuller has totaled 24 doubles, four triples, five homers, 49 RBIs, and 11 steals, while Billy Ferriter has added 15 steals. John Andreoli, whose sister Kathryn is a student at Clemson, is hitting .309 with 20 stolen bases as well.

The Connecticut pitching staff has been a strength throughout the season, with a 2.85 ERA and .223 opponents’ batting average. The staff has allowed just 17 home runs and 211 walks against 419 strikeouts, good for a 1.99-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Junior righthander Matt Barnes, the 2011 Big East Conference pitcher of the year, is 11-3 with a 1.12 ERA, .162 opponents’ batting average, and 105 strikeouts against 28 walks in 112.1 innings pitched over 15 starts. Senior lefty Greg Nappo is 9-2 with a 2.71 ERA and .217 opponents’ batting average in 79.2 innings pitched over 14 starts. Junior righty Kevin Vance has a team-high 13 saves, an 0.98 ERA, a .106 opponents’ batting average, and 28 strikeouts against only five walks in 27.2 innings pitched over 25 relief appearances.

Both Barnes and Springer are projected as first-round picks in the Major League Baseball draft later this month.

Clemson and Connecticut have never met in baseball. Clemson coach Jack Leggett had a 5-4 record against the Huskies as head coach at Vermont from 1978-82.

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