PROVIDENCE, R.I. - After winning three regular season conference titles in the last four years, the Louisville baseball team was selected as the favorite to add to that total on Thursday as the Cardinals were chosen to win the 2013 BIG EAST championship by the league’s head coaches.
Louisville, which won a share of the 2012 BIG EAST title and advanced to an NCAA Regional for the fifth time in six seasons, received eight first-place votes and 98 points overall in the coaches’ preseason poll. St. John’s was second with three first-place votes and 82 points, while Notre Dame was third with 81 points. Connecticut was fourth with 74 points, while USF rounded out the top five with 67 points.
The Cardinals also led all teams with four players named to the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team on Thursday -- junior outfielder Adam Engel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Loveland HS), junior designated hitter Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy), junior right-handed pitcher Jeff Thompson (Greenville, Ind./Floyd Central HS) and sophomore righty Jared Ruxer (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS). Engel, a Second Team All-BIG EAST selection last season, had a league-leading 37 stolen bases in 2012 while hitting .308 with 43 runs scored and 18 RBI.
Gardner, the Second Team All-BIG EAST designated hitter last season, hit .299 with two home runs and 34 RBI in 2012. Thompson, also a Second Team All-BIG EAST honoree last year, turned in a 9-4 mark with a 4.00 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 15 starts as a sophomore. Ruxer, the 2012 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year and a Third Team All-BIG EAST selection, went 8-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 14 starts and 16 total appearances last season.
Louisville will open the 2013 season on Friday, Feb. 15 against Indiana (7:30 p.m., ET) in Dunedin, Fla., at the BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge. The Cardinals' 36-game home slate at the newly expanded Jim Patterson Stadium is set to open on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 3 p.m., ET against Eastern Kentucky.
The first weekend of BIG EAST Conference action is March 22-24. The 2013 BIG EAST Baseball Championship will return to Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., May 22-26, with the championship game to be televised on ESPNU.
Fans can follow Louisville baseball on Twitter at http://twitter.com/uoflbaseball and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ulbaseball.
2013 Preseason BIG EAST Baseball Coaches’ Poll
1. Louisville (8) 98
2. St. John’s (3) 82
3. Notre Dame 81
4. Connecticut 74
5. USF 67
6. Seton Hall 52
7. Pittsburgh 46
8. Rutgers 43
9. Cincinnati 30
10. Georgetown 18
11. Villanova 14
Preseason BIG EAST Player of the Year: L.J. Mazzilli, 2B, Connecticut
Preseason BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year: Jon Prosinski, RHP, Seton Hall
2013 Preseason All-BIG EAST Team
Pos. Name, Class, School Key 2012 Stats
P Jared Ruxer, So., Louisville 8-3, 3.38 ERA, 77.1 IP, 32 K, 15 BB, .262 OBA
P Jeff Thompson, Jr., Louisville 9-4, 4.00 ERA, 78.2 IP, 73 K, 38 BB, .263 OBA
P Sean Hagan, Sr., St. John’s 8-2, 2.72 ERA, 102.2 IP, 66 K, 23 BB, .231 OBA
*P Jon Prosinksi, Sr., Seton Hall 9-3, 3.52 ERA, 94.2 IP, 73 K, 19 BB, .288 OBA
RP Dan Slania, Jr., Notre Dame 3-0, 2.03 ERA, 12 SV, 31.0 IP, 37 K, 12 BB
C Jeff Melillo, Sr., Rutgers .311, 4 HR, 30 RBI
*1B Trey Mancini, Jr., Notre Dame .317, 12 HR, 45 RBI
2B L.J. Mazzilli, Sr., Connecticut .339, 9 HR, 38 RBI, 16 SB
SS Tyler Sciacca, Sr., Villanova .359, 1 HR, 39 RBI, 17 SB, .980 FLD%
3B Eric Jagielo, Jr., Notre Dame .310, 13 HR, 43 RBI
3B Sean O’Hare, Sr., St. John’s .346, 3 HR, 42 RBI
OF Justin Glass, Jr., Cincinnati .366, 3 HR, 26 RBI, 15 SB
OF Adam Engel, Jr., Louisville .308, 1 HR, 18 RBI, 37 SB
OF James Ramsay, Jr.. USF .328, 2 HR, 32 RBI, 14 SB
DH Jeff Gardner, Jr., Louisville .299, 2 HR, 34 RBI
* - unanimous selection