Lavarnway 'excited' about 2013 Red Sox

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Lavarnway 'excited' about 2013 Red Sox

PAWTUCKET Like most who are interested to see how the Red Sox will rebound from their disastrous 2012 season, Ryan Lavarnway has been watching the moves the team has been making. And hes pleased.

Im excited, Lavarnway said Saturday at the PawSox Christmas party at McCoy Stadium. I think that they signed players that are definitely going to help us win. Theyre players with a lot of playoff experience and a lot of game experience and theyre guys thatll be good to have around.

I think that the players that weve acquired are all high-quality character guys. And new manager John Farrell I think is going to lead a much tighter ship than what weve had recently.

In the past week the Sox added outfielder Shane Victorino and catcherfirst baseman Mike Napoli, who both agreed to three-year, 39 million contracts, along with pitcher Koji Uehara, who signed a one-year, 4.25 million deal.

While Napoli was brought in primarily to play first base he could be available behind the plate as well. His addition gives the Sox six catchers on the 40-man roster, with four on the 25-man roster as currently projected. Lavarnway, while still establishing himself at the big league level, is happy with the addition of Napoli.

I think hes a great player, Lavarnway said. And I know that when we play Texas we didnt want to pitch to him. So I think thatll be a good addition to our lineup.

Lavarnway, the Sox sixth-round pick in 2008 out of Yale, did not get to know Farrell before he left as the Sox pitching coach to manage the Blue Jays before the 2011 season. Lavarnway introduced himself to the manager for the first time last season during a game against the Jays. Hes been getting to know his new manager this offseason.

He called me and he said how excited he was to be a part of the team and how excited he was about what we had going forward and the new additions we were going to add, Lavarnway said. I saw him on the caravan in Boston last week. He seemed very excited and very dedicated.

Lavarnway is looking forward to a having a manager with a pitching background.

I think that he recognizes the needs that pitchers and catchers have, Lavarnway said, and that hell help meet those needs.

Hes also looking forward to having former PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler on the big league staff, as the Sox first base coach.

Itll be great for the players coming up because hes seen us at our best and at our worst and hes seen the transition periods in between, Lavarnway said. And I think he will help facilitate those and help us go from bad to good a lot quicker.

One of Lavarnways goals this season is to catch 100 games. He reached that milestone last season for the first time in his career, with 108 games behind the plate between Pawtucket and Boston. It was a workload that took its toll. He hit just .157, going 24-for-153, with 41 strikeouts and just 10 extra-base hits in the big leagues. His big league offense was well off what he did for the PawSox last season, when he hit .295 with eight home runs, 43 RBI, a .376 on-base percentage, and .439 slugging percentage in 61 games.

I just want to hit like myself again, he said. Its easy for me to say .290, 25 home runs, and 100 RBI. But that gets changed based on the number of at-bats I get. So if I get 500 at-bats, Id like to hit 20-plus homers again like I know Im capable of.

Syracuse uses late 99-yard drive to beat UConn, 31-24

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Syracuse uses late 99-yard drive to beat UConn, 31-24

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. - Syracuse receiver Amba Etta-Tawo is making the most of his final year of college eligibility.

The graduate transfer from Maryland caught 12 passes for a school-record 270 yards and two touchdowns and the Orange beat UConn 31-24 on Saturday to snap a two-game losing skid.

Etta-Tawo scored twice in the game's first five minutes on touchdown receptions of 57 and 30 yards. His 59-yard catch from the shadow of his team's goal line highlighted a 12-play 99-yard fourth-quarter drive that put the game away for the Orange (2-2).

It was his fourth straight game with at least 100 yards receiving.

"It goes back to chemistry with the quarterback and the coaches trusting me," Etta-Tawo said. "They trust that I'll make the plays and they keep on giving me opportunities to make the plays."

Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey completed 26 of 40 passes for 407 yards and those two scores. He also scored on a 6-yard run to complete the length-of the field drive.

"We had to do it," said Etta-Tawo. "We had to drive down the field and try to put the game out, and that's exactly what we did. Everybody dug in, dug a little deeper."

Noel Thomas had 14 receptions for 111 yards for UConn (2-2). Huskies running back Arkeel Newsome ran for 81 yards and a touchdown.

It took Syracuse just 51 seconds on its first drive and 92 seconds on its second for Dungey and Etta-Tawo to make it 14-0. Etta-Tawo had five catches for 115 yards in the first quarter.

"I think he's already passed his previous career high as a collegian in the first four games with us, (more than) his whole entire career he had at the other school," coach Dino Babers said. "I think, if you asked him, I think he might have made a good choice (to transfer)."

The Huskies responded by scoring twice in the second quarter and for the second straight week, the Orange couldn't hold the early double-digit lead.

"We can't just go up 14-0, 17-0 in the beginning of the game and then put ourselves back in a dog fight," said linebacker Zaire Franklin, who was in on 14 tackles. "Some of these games we've got to have it over by the beginning of the second quarter."

Cordell Hudson pickup off a tipped pass from UConn quarterback Bryant Shirreffs and ran 22-yards down the left sideline for a touchdown that gave the Orange a 24-17 lead. It was just the second interception for the Orange this season.

The Huskies had a chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter after holder Tyler Davis, a former high school quarterback, hit tight end Tommy Myers with a 17-yard pass on a fake field goal to set the Huskies up at the Syracuse 8-yard line.

But Syracuse's defense held, and linebacker Franklin stopped Shirreffs on a fourth-and goal from the 2-yard line with just over 6 minutes left. The Orange marched the length of the field to put the game away.

"Going back, I would probably buy some more time and throw it to the back of the end zone," said Shirreffs, who threw a 24-yard touchdown to Davis with 33 seconds left to make the final score close. "I came up short. The linebacker made a good play and I didn't."