The UConn baseball team arrived in Gainesville late Thursday night looking to bounce back from a disappointing series loss at Lipscomb and beat an SEC team for the first time in program history. They came painfully close in each and every game.
The bats finally came alive in game three. UConn jumped out to an early lead on a Siena RBI groundout to score leadoff man Jack Sundberg who reached on a walk and moved to third on a successful hit and run by two hitter Eric Yavarone. Cleanup hitter Blake Davey followed Siena with an RBI single up the middle and it looked like the Husky offense was off and running before McDowell hit into an inning ending double play. The Gators were able to bounce right back in the bottom of the first with two runs of their own. The game continued to be back and forth with the Gators scoring in the bottom of the third on a Gushue sacrifice fly, UConn tying the game the next half inning with a Ryan Sullivan sacrifice fly, and Florida re-taking the lead the next half inning on an RBI double by Josh Tobias.UConn was able to show their resiliency, fighting back to take the lead back in the sixth. Davey led off with a double and was sent to third on a productive groundout by first basemen Bobby Melley. Then McDowell hit a hot shot into left field for a game tying RBI single. Bryan Daniello followed with an RBI double, depositing a 3-1 pitch down the left field line, to put the Huskies back on top. Going into this game, the Gators had not won a game all season when trailing after six innings and it looked like the UConn bullpen was going to be able to hold down the lead. Freshman Anthony Kay came on in the 6th inning and kept Florida scoreless through the first out of the ninth. Then the Gators turned on their late inning magic. Taylor Gushue stepped to the plate and unloaded on a 0-1 fastball over the plate, crushing a home run well over the left field stands to tie the game and shattering a car windshield in the process. Kay was able to keep his focus and get out of the inning, but the UConn offense could not make anything happen in the top of the 10th after Siena singled to extend his hitting streak to 17 games, and his on base streak to 23 games. In the bottom of the tenth, Tobias led off with a triple and a couple batters later Casey Turgeon once again played hero, walking off for the second time in three nights, this time with a safety squeeze down the first base line, to give the Gators the win. The Gators improved to 10-6 and the Huskies dropped to 4-8. It was UConn’s sixth extra inning game of the season. Although it was a series of tough results, there certainly were some positives. The pitching was pretty good all week and the young Huskies battled all weekend against a young Florida team that has the number one ranked freshman-recruiting class in the nation this year. Sophomores Max McDowell and Bobby Melley look like they are starting to regain their form from their successful freshman campaigns, and Vinny Siena and Blake Davey are looking like they are going to be the foundation for a solid heart of the order as the three and four hitters respectively. The Huskies will have to rebound quickly as they are scheduled to play Sacred Heart (3-4) Tuesday in Bridgeport. It is scheduled for a 3:30pm start and the forecast is calling for a 48-degree day. It may seem curious that the game is scheduled in Connecticut in mid-march, but when your athletic director is Bobby Valentine, things like that happen.