BIG EAST Baseball

BIG EAST Baseball Championship Preview: Can UConn Recover?

BIG EAST Baseball Championship Preview: Can UConn Recover?

Learn all there is to know about the teams at the 2022 BIG EAST Championship, which gets underway Thursday at Prasco Park in Ohio. UConn is the top seed.

May 24, 2022 by FloBaseball Staff
BIG EAST Baseball Championship Preview: Can UConn Recover?

It's funny how things change sometimes.

And, ahead of this week's BIG EAST Baseball Championship to decide who is the league's representative at the NCAA Tournament, it was incredible timing for change to come.

No longer does a longtime league favorite seem so dominant after a series of shocking losses to finish off the regular season, and with the rest of the four-team field seeing the opportunity ahead of them to strike, it could make for a testy and tense few days at Prasco Park in Mason, Ohio, just outside Cincinnati. Things are going to get chaotic quickly.

Here's what to know about the BIG EAST Championship field as they battle in a double-elimination format from Thursday to Sunday, and look to keep their seasons alive.

NOTE: All first-pitch times are listed in Eastern Time and are subject to change.

No. 4 Georgetown Hoyas

The record: 32-21 (11-10 BIG EAST)

The lowdown: The Hoyas needed a late surge to do it, but thanks to a stunning sweep over UConn to close the regular season this past weekend - and winning via walk-offs on Saturday and Sunday in the process - Georgetown is back in the BIG EAST Championship for the fifth time since 1985. 

Though the school, based in the nation's capital, has played baseball in some form since 1877, the Hoyas have zero NCAA Tournament appearances in their history. Could that change this weekend? 

Well, Georgetown has to first prove the sweep wasn't a fluke as it gets the Huskies, who dropped out of the Top 25 after this past weekend, in the very first game of the tournament. 

But, graduate second baseman Ethan Stern smacked four home runs in two games against UConn to win BIG EAST Player of the Week honors, while right-hander Carter Bosch is a quiet 6-3 this year after he held the Huskies to one run on five hits across six frames last Friday. 

The Hoyas suddenly have gone from afterthought to dark horse to win the BIG EAST after their statement series sweep, but is there enough magic left in the tank for them to pull it off?

First game: vs. No. 1 UConn - Thursday, 2:30 p.m.

No. 3 Xavier Musketeers

The record: 31-25 (13-8 BIG EAST)

The lowdown: If you find yourself playing the Musketeers, get ready for your outfielders to make beelines toward the warning track. Xavier ranks in the top-25 nationally in team homers with 86 entering the BIG EAST Championship, but most of those can be chalked up to the league's most feared power hitter: Luke Franzoni. 

The senior outfielder had a prior career-high of 11 home runs and more than doubled it to a BIG EAST-best 24 this year, which also is the fifth-best individual rank in America. 

The team's sweep of St. John's to close out the regular season certainly didn't hurt its confidence, and neither does playing less than a half-hour from campus for a shot at the NCAA Tournament. 

However, the Musketeers' team ERA (5.73) is the highest of all the teams qualified for the BIG EAST Championship, and the rotation overall has major control problems in having tied for the most walks thrown (276) of any school in the league. 

First-round foe Creighton won the season series between the two, but Xavier won the Sunday closer, 9-3, after Franzoni hit one of his many bombs this year. 

With seasons on the line in the rematch, which side of Xavier comes out to play will be telling toward how long it lasts in the postseason - even in friendly territory.

First game: vs. No. 2 Creighton - Thursday, 6:30 p.m.

No. 2 Creighton Bluejays

The record: 30-16 (15-5 BIG EAST)

The lowdown: The Bluejays are the BIG EAST's biggest enigma: they're good, but just how good? 

Creighton very nearly snuck into the No. 1 seed after a five-game winning run to close the regular season, plus Georgetown's surprising sweep, but perhaps the Bluejays are exactly where they want to be, lurking in the shadows as the upstart against vulnerable opposition. 

Getting through Xavier first would be a good place to start, and with an ace on the mound in junior right-hander Dylan Tebrake (8-2, 2.58 ERA, 108 strikeouts), plus a possible league hitting champion in sophomore Alan Roden (.394 average, league-high 24 doubles), any task at hand becomes much, much easier. 

Creighton's Achilles' heel this season has been a tendency to go through hot-and-cold streaks that made it difficult to keep pace with a mostly dominant UConn - that is, until other teams helped the Bluejays out later on. 

A five-game losing run to start May, including getting swept by the Huskies, was the biggest example of it, with Creighton hoping the most recent version of itself shows up in Ohio this weekend. If not, the Bluejays could fly away back to Omaha not for a shot to play in the College World Series, but to watch it all unfold from home.

First game: vs. No. 3 Xavier - Thursday, 6:30 p.m.

No. 1 UConn Huskies

The record: 43-13 (16-5 BIG EAST)

The lowdown: Are there finally cracks in the armor? Is UConn not the unstoppable force it appeared to be for nearly all of the BIG EAST season? 

Yes, the Huskies' three defeats in a row to Georgetown—no matter how solid the Hoyas are—was a result few saw coming.

But, if any team in the BIG EAST Championship suddenly underestimates UConn as overrated and undeserving of the No. 1 seed because of it, they could be in for a rude awakening. 

There are reasons why the Huskies were ranked in the top-15 nationally for much of the season and why they were one of the first teams in America to hit the 40-win mark: smashmouth offense, shutdown pitching and the ability to put on shows night in and night out against the rest of the league. 

Senior outfielder Erik Stock (.390 average) has the juice at the plate, but right-hander Austin Peterson - even with defeats in his past two starts - still is the league's most fearsome arm with 121 strikeouts to his name. 

With the BIG EAST's top lineup (.301 average) and rotation (3.48 ERA) in tow, a chance at redemption is immediately available against the Hoyas, before the real goal awaits - getting back to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive time.

First game: vs. No. 4 Georgetown - Thursday, 2:30 p.m.