The UConn Baseball team opened up the 2016 campaign Friday night on the road at UT-San Antonio. Both teams' top starters battled in a classic pitcher's duel.
UConn's Anthony Kay registered six innings of work, allowing only 2 hits and one earned run with a total of 8 strikeouts. His shining moment came in the 5th inning; stuck in a bases-loaded jam with one out, he recorded his first pickoff of the year, then followed it up with a big strikeout to escape the dangerous situation.
Despite the great pitching, UTSA seemed to have an answer for everything. In the top of the second inning, UConn OF Joe DeRoche-Duffin blasted his first home run of the season, a solo shot to give the Huskies an early 1-0 lead. The Roadrunners responded in a similar fashion when RF Skyler Valentine hit a solo shot of his own in the bottom half of the second to even up the contest 1-1.
The trend continued later in the game in the ninth. Still knotted up at 1 a piece, the Huskies were seeking their first hit since DeRoche-Duffin's solo shot in the second inning. UConn managed to get runners on the corners, but couldn't capitalize. In the bottom half of the frame, UTSA scored on a wild pitch from reliever Nico Darras to complete the walk off win.
UConn baseball suffered another setback Saturday, losing to the UTSA Roadrunners by one run for the second time in as many games, 6-5. Starting pitcher Wills Montgomerie earned a no-decision, pitching five innings and giving up five earned runs on seven hits, with six strikeouts.
The Huskies struck first for two runs in the fourth thanks to a pair of walks by UTSA starter Karan Patel. He walked Bobby Melley and Willy Yahn, and after a Bryan Daniello single moved them both into scoring position, Patel was done for the day. Andre Shewcraft came in to relieve him, with the bases loaded. Aaron Hill drew a walk, plating Melley and giving the Huskies a 1-0 lead. Catcher Zac Susi then came to the plate, and reached on an error by Roadrunners center fielder Matt Hilston, which brought in Yahn. Troy Stefanski, the next batter up, lined out to second, and Susi was doubled off, ending the frame.
In the bottom of the fifth, UTSA struck back. Bryan Arias led off with a single, and three batters later, J.T. Gilmore grounded out to first, and he scored on the play, while Mason George advanced to third, after he doubled. George scored on the next play, as Ryan Stacy singled. Montgomerie settled down, and struck out Matt Hilston looking to close out the frame.
Montgomerie served up a three run home run to Geonte Jackson that ended his afternoon, after allowing a walk and a single to start the half inning. Doug Domnarski came in to replace him, induced two groundouts, allowed Mason George to reach on an error by third baseman Willy Yahn, who was retired trying to advance to second.
The Huskies responded with a run in each of the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, tying the game at five and forcing the Roadrunners to hit in the bottom of the ninth. Freshman P.J. Poulin made his debut, starting the bottom of the ninth. He induced a leadoff fly out from Skyler Valentine, but then catcher Mason George, who went 2-4 on the afternoon, doubled in the left-center gap. J.T. Gilmore singled, and there were runners on the corners with one out.
Poulin was lifted for Nico Darras, who faced pinch hitter Ben Brookover. On the first pitch he faced, he doubled down the right field line, plating George and giving UTSA their second walk-off win of the season in their second game.
The UConn baseball team got into the win column Sunday, beating the UTSA Roadrunners in their series finale Sunday, 9-6, in San Antonio. Jack Riley (1-0) got the win, while Randy Polonia got the save. Bradley Griggs (0-1) took the loss.
The Huskies got off to a hot start, with leadoff man Jack Sundberg scoring the first run. He led off with a walk, and took second and third on a failed pickoff attempt. The next batter, Willy Yahn, doubled him home.
UTSA countered with three runs in the bottom of the second. Ben Brookover and Mason George got back to back singles and a Skyler Valentine scored Brookover, putting runners at second and third for Matt Hilston, who doubled them both home to give the Roadrunners a 3-1 lead.
In the next half inning, Bobby Melley cut the lead in half with a solo home run with two outs, and the Huskies couldn't get anything else going.
UTSA took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the third, when they got some offense going for the second consecutive inning, pushing two runs across. Jason Serchay led off with a single, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Bryan Arias worked a walk, and that was it for Huskies starter Anthony Zapata, who went two-plus innings, with five runs on six hits, and one strikeout.
Wills Montgomerie came in to pitch and got Brookover to ground into a fielder's choice, putting runners at the corners with one out. Mason George, the next batter, struck out looking. Valentine singled, allowing Jason Serchay to score. Matt Hilston then doubled, bringing Arias around to score and putting runners on second and third with two outs. Despite Tyler Straub getting hit by a pitch, loading the bases, Montgomerie got out of the inning without any further damage.
Alex LeFerve singled Bryan Daniello home in the top of the fourth, cutting the Roadrunners lead again, to 5-3, but the Roadrunners got it back in the sixth.
In the seventh, the Huskies were able to push Jack Sundberg across for his second run on the afternoon, but couldn't strike further, stranding three runners at the end of the inning. Jack Riley then shut down the Roadrunners for a 1-2-3 inning, and the Huskies' offense got another chance. This time they didn't squander it.
LeFerve led off with a double, and Keith Krueger came in to pinch run for him. John Toppa singled, and there were runners on the corners for Jack Sundberg. He reached on an error, Toppa moved to third, and Krueger came across, shrinking the lead to 6-4 for the Roadrunners.
Yahn walked to load the bases, and the Roadrunners made a pitching change, bringing in lefty Trent Rosipal. Bobby Melley was the first batter he faced, and he knocked a two-run single, bringing in Sundberg and Toppa to give the Huskies the lead. Yahn got gunned down trying to go from first to third on the play. Joe DeRoche-Duffin, the next batter, doubled, putting Melley on third. Melley scored on a passed ball, and DeRoche-Duffin on a wild pitch, bringing the lead to 9-6, which was the final score.
Next weekend, UConn is participating in the Austin Peay tournament, in Clarksville, Tennessee. Their opponents include Missouri State, Austin Peay and Alcorn State.