The boys in blue and white got the results they had been looking for at Caravelle Resort's Baseball at the Beach Tournament in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina this past weekend as they were able to beat Wichita State, George Mason, and Illinois in consecutive days to even their record at 3-3.
Friday night featured a matchup with traditional powerhouse Wichita State who came in at 4-0. The start of the game was delayed until 8:30, but the wait didn't slow down UConn's starting pitcher Jordan Tabakman who went five innings giving up just one run on five hits and three walks while striking out five.
It was a solid start but resulted in a tough luck no decision as the Husky's 13 hits could only produce two runs against Shocker pitching. UConn's offense was led by Mansfield's own Jack Sundberg, the sophomore tallied three hits (a career high) and a walk from the lead-off spot, and junior Eric Yavarone who had three hits of his own, including the biggest hit of the day.
Wichita State struck first in the top of the first inning, taking a 1-0 lead on an RBI single by Tyler Baker. The score would remain the same until the bottom of the eighth inning when the Huskies were finally able to knot things up. Vinny Sienna started the inning off with a double down the left field line and, after advancing to third on a fly out by Max McDowell, came home on an RBI double to right field by fellow sophomore Bobby Melley. The Shockers were kept at bay by the Husky bullpen as Max Slade came on in the sixth and worked around two hits to keep Wichita State scoreless.
Freshman flamethrower Anthony Kay replaced him in the seventh, and unleashed an incredible performance, shutting down the Shockers the last four innings of the game and keeping them scoreless while striking out seven. Kay's performance set the stage for the Huskies to walk off in the tenth. Melley led off with a walk and was replaced on the bases senior captain Tom Verdi. It was Verdi's first appearance of the year as he is coming back from a sprained wrist. Nico Darras came up next and singled moving Verdi to second, and Bryan Daniello picked up a bunt single to load the bases and set up the heroics for Yavarone. The Husky left fielder responded with a single into center field, allowing Verdi to cross the plate and getting UConn their first win of the year in walk-off fashion by a score of 2-1.
The Huskies kept the momentum from their late night victory going against George Mason the following night as the UConn bats came alive to beat up on the Patriots 11-2 behind 12 hits. The heroes from the night prior stayed hot as Sundberg continued his success in the leadoff spot going 3-5 with an RBI and two runs, Melley went 3-4 with two RBIs and a run, Yavarone went 2-3 with two RBIs, and Sienna went 2-5 with 2 RBIs and three runs while extending his hitting streak to 10 games.
Every Husky in the starting lineup either scored a run or had an RBI, which was more than enough run support for starter Anthony Marzi who picked up the win going five innings giving up two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out six. His record moves to 1-1 on the year and now has 159 career strikeouts, which puts him at 18th in UConn history to go along with his 216.1 career innings which places him at 10th in program history.
UConn capped off the weekend by rolling over the Illinois 6-0. The game had a relatively early start at 10:05 AM but the Husky bats were wide wake and ready to rake as they pounded out 14 hits off Illini pitching and scored two runs in the third, fifth, and seventh innings on their way to a perfect weekend. The hitting attack was led once again by Sundberg (2-4 with a run and an RBI), Yavarone (2-5), and Sienna (3-6 with a run and an RBI) who improved his hitting streak to 11 and has reached base safely in 17 consecutive games dating back to last season. Daniello and Blake Davey, a junior transfer from Cypress College each notched two hits as well. Brian Ward threw five and two-thirds innings of shut out ball to pick up the win moving to 1-1 on the season, and Andrew Zapata and David Mahoney joined him as they finished out the game and combined to only give up three hits while striking out nine.
The Huskies look to continue their winning ways as they travel to Nashville, Tennessee this weekend to take on the Lipscomb Bisons. The Bisons come into the series in a bit of a funk, as they are currently 2-6. UConn shares a common opponent with them as both teams have lost to Indiana State. The Huskies will have the same weekend starters pitching for them in Tabakman, Marzi, and Ward. Game times are as followed: Friday at 5:00 PM, Saturday at 3:00 PM, and Sunday at 2:00 PM. You can catch the action on 91.7 WHUS Storrs, the UConn student radio station, or stream the audio at WHUS.org.