CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — LJ Mazzilli had three hits and two RBIs and freshman left-hander Brian Ward pitched eight strong innings to lead Connecticut to a 12-6 victory over Coastal Carolina in an elimination game Sunday afternoon at the Clemson Regional.
The Huskies (43-18-1) advance to play host Clemson (43-18) Sunday night in the championship pairing. UConn must beat Clemson twice to win the double-elimination tournament.
A triple by Mazzilli — son of former Major League player, coach and manager Lee Mazzilli — to lead off the game sparked the Huskies to a quick two-run advantage they never relinquished.
“I had the luxury of just attacking the hitters and throwing outs,” Ward said. “It’s great starting off a game like that.”
“It always helps in college baseball when you score first,” UConn coach Jim Penders said. “We kind of dictated play.”
Mazzilli’s two-run single in the seventh helped the Huskies score three runs after Coastal dropped an infield pop-up. The Chanticleers’ four errors led to seven unearned runs.
Coastal gave up 12 runs in each of its two weekend losses after falling behind early.
Coastal starter Josh Conway (8-2) struggled early, but the Chanticleers trailed only 4-3 when he left with two outs in the fifth inning. Coastal coach Gary Gilmore used six pitchers.
“The key was our inability to get anything done on the pitching mound at the beginning of the game,” Gilmore said.
Ward (6-1) allowed three earned runs and six hits while tying his longest outing of the season.
Mike Nemeth had four hits and two RBIs for UConn. Tucker Frawley had two hits for Coastal (42-20).