Anthony Marzi went to UConn head coach Jim Penders last night and told him that if Carson Cross could not pitch in Sunday’s Big East Championship Game against Notre Dame that he wanted the ball.
Marzi got the ball, and he repaid Penders’ confidence by winning the Big East baseball championship.
The Huskies defeated Notre Dame 8-1 in the championship game on Sunday to win their first Big East title since 1994, and to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
With the win, UConn’s senior class becomes the first class since 1963 to play in the NCAA Tournament at least three times.
After defeating No. 1 Louisville, No. 4 South Florida and No. 5 Rutgers, the No. 8 Huskies entered the game against the No. 7 Irish on a hot streak, and despite a .226 team average during the season, the bats were wide awake against Notre Dame.
LJ Mazzilli put the Huskies on top in the bottom of the first inning with a two-run home run and Tom Verdi hit a two-run triple in the third inning as UConn posted six runs in the first three innings.
UConn added two insurance runs late in the game, but they were unnecessary because of the incredible pitching performance by Marzi. The Berlin, Conn. native pitched a complete game, allowing only one run on four hits while striking out six Notre Dame batters.
The Irish have a chance to make the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team, but they now have to sweat it out until noon on Monday, when the field of 64 is announced.
The Huskies are back in the NCAA Tournament after missing out last season. UConn reached the Super Regionals in 2011 after winning the Clemson Regional, but they were eliminated by the eventual national champions, South Carolina.
Many UConn fans saw Sunday’s win as more than a baseball victory. The baseball championship game was the final sporting event for the Big East as we know it before the Catholic Seven take the name and several other teams depart for the ACC. As has been well-documented, UConn, which has long been one of, if not the most successful school in the Big East, has been left out to dry. UConn fans feel a sense of justice in winning the conference’s last ever championship.