The Huskies arrived in Nashville on a three game winning steak after a sweep of some great competition last week in South Carolina and were feeling good in game one Friday with ace Jordan Tabakman’s on the hill. Lipscomb, who came into the game at 2-7 after an 18-5 win over Alabama A&M Thursday, struck first in the top half of the first when right fielder Drew Adams singled home Jonathan Allison after a leadoff double to make it 1-0. After a Kyle Massey home run in the third inning to make it 2-0, Tabakman settled down and was able to keep it close until the UConn offense finally broke through for a run in the 5th on an Aaron Hill groundout, scoring third basemen Bryan Daniello after a leadoff triple.
UConn took their first lead of the game in the 7th inning. With one out, freshman Ryan Sullivan was hit by a pitch and then pinch run for by senior captain Tom Verdi. Verdi, who is currently out of the lineup with small fracture in his wrist, ended up scoring on a wild pitch to tie the game after a Hill walk and a groundout by Jack Sundberg which moved him to third. With two outs, Vinny Siena doubled down the left field line to move his hitting streak to 12 games and give the Huskies a 3-2 lead.
Lipscomb would get the runs right back in the bottom half of the inning after back to back singles and a throwing error by UConn catcher Max McDowell. With the Huskies down 4-3 and a runner on, head coach Jim Penders brought on David Mahoney, who walked the bases full before getting the Bison’s top power threat Tyson Ashcraft to strike out swinging. Ashcraft then took over on the mound in the 8th with the Huskies down a run. Blake Davey led off the top of the 8th with a single to center field and came around to score the tying run to make the game 4-4.
The score would remain that way until the 10th inning. McDowell led off by getting hit by the first pitch he saw and was moved over to second by a Daniello sacrifice bunt. After a Nico Darras strikeout, it set the stage for Aaron Hill to be the hero and he was just that as he lined a fastball into left field for a single as McDowell turned on the jets to beat a throw up the line from Lipscomb leftfielder Josh Lee. Jack Sundberg followed Hill with an RBI single of his own, his third hit of the day, to give the Huskies a much-needed insurance run. It was Sundberg’s fourth multi-hit performance in a row. Freshman pitcher Pat Ruotolo closed out the bottom half of the 10th inning as he went three shutout innings giving up just 2 walks on no hits, striking out four as the Huskies won their fourth in a row to move to 4-3 on the season.
Unfortunately that would be the last win the Huskies would see last weekend as Lipscomb got their revenge in games two and three to win the series. Game two on Saturday saw the Huskies jump out to a 2-0 lead by playing some small ball. Aaron Hill was again the catalyst as he walked, stole second, and ended up scoring on a Siena sacrifice fly to put UConn on the board.
The Huskies were up 3-1 heading into the bottom of the 8th inning and Anthony Marzi was dealing. He ended up going 7+ innings giving up two runs (one earned) on six hits and one walk with two strikeouts, but came out after hitting leadoff hitter Jonathan Allison to open the inning. The Bison scored twice on an error and an RBI single from freshman Hunter Hanks who was making just his second plate appearance of the year. In the 10th inning, after UConn batters went down in order, the Bison walked off on a bases loaded walk by Chad Shannon. The 3-1 pitch by freshman pitcher Andrew Zapata looked like a good one to everyone besides home plate umpire Jeff Wright, and just like that the series was tied at a game apiece.
Sunday proved to be a forgettable one for UConn. The game was moved up 45 minutes due to the threat of rain and the game proved to be as bleak as the weather. Lipscomb scored two runs with two outs in the bottom of the 2nd inning, and the score remained 2-0 as UConn starting pitcher Brian Ward was able to work out of some jams and the Husky offense remained dormant. Then the bottom of the 8th came around. Lipscomb finally tore the game open by putting up 12 runs as UConn ran through four pitchers in the inning. The Huskies avoided being shut out when Blake Davey hit a solo homer to right field in the ninth, but could muster nothing else as the rubber game of the series ended with a 14-1 Lipscomb win. The Bisons moved to 4-8 on the year and the Huskies dropped to 4-5.
This weekend UConn faces a huge test as they travel down to Gainsville to take on the Florida Gators. The Gators are 7-6 to start the year and just dropped out of the top 25 this week after splitting two games with Florida Gulf Coast and losing both to an Illinois team that the Huskies beat 6-0 last Sunday. UConn is 2-3 all time against the Gators. The rotation once again will be Jordan Tabakman (0-1, 4.76 ERA) in game one, Anthony Marzi (1-1, 2.16 ERA) in game two, and Brian Ward (1-2, 2.76 ERA) in game three. Friday’s game is at 7:00 pm, Saturday’s is at 3:00 pm, and Sunday’s is at 1:00 pm. You can catch the action on 91.7 WHUS FM or WHUS.org.