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UConn Baseball Weekend Recap: Huskies Sweep the Competition at Austin Peay Tournament

It was a great weekend for the Huskies in Tennessee as they took three wins in convincing fashion.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Friday, February 26th - Missouri State

by Ryan Melillo

The Huskies came out firing on all cylinders Friday afternoon on a windy, New-England-like environment in Clarksville, Tennessee against 12th-ranked Missouri State.

UConn ace Anthony Kay (1-0) led the way in his second start of the season, registering six innings of work and totaling a season-high 10 strikeouts. He was virtually untouchable through the first 5 frames, allowing just one hit and no earned runs. He finished the game allowing only 3 hits and 3 runs, none of them earned.

The UConn offense matched Kay's dominance, coming out swinging early as well. The Huskies managed to score first for their fourth straight game.

Following a 1-2-3 inning by Kay to start off the first, UConn found itself with runners on second and third.  With two outs, DH Tyler Gnesda stepped up to the plate. The junior transfer ripped one right up the middle to help the Huskies jump out to a 2-0 lead.

That score held until the bottom of the third, when sophomore 3B Willy Yahn crushed a solo shot to start the onslaught.  After walks by 1B Bobby Melley and Gnesda, 2B Aaron Hill hit a single to score them both.  A walk by freshman John Toppa and a single by captain Jack Sundberg, both with the bases loaded, opened up the game as UConn took a 7-0 lead after three.

With the game still in its early stages, a team as strong as Missouri State was not going to be put away that easy.  After a Willy Yahn error in the 6th with two outs, Missouri State's Alex Jefferson hit a 3-run blast off of Kay to bring the Bears back into the contest.

The following inning, LHP Doug Domnarski got the call from the bullpen in relief of Kay, allowing a sacrifice fly with runners at the corners before head coach Jim Penders called in reliever Devin Over. Following a walk to load up the bases, Over worked his way out of the jam to minimize the damage as UConn carried a 7-4 lead into the bottom of the seventh.

The Huskies sealed the deal in the bottom of the 8th when a two-run double by Melley and a 3-run homer by Tyler Gnesda put UConn up 12-4 over the Bears. This score would hold up to the finish as Jim Penders' squad won their second straight, giving them a 2-2 record on the year.

Saturday, February 27 - Austin Peay

by Shawn McGrath

The Huskies got off to a hot start, with a Joe DeRoche-Duffin home run bringing Jack Sundberg and Willy Yahn home in the top of the first. Sundberg led off with a single, and the next batter Willy Yahn doubled to set up the DeRoche-Duffin homer.

They had a chance to add even more, with a Gnesda double and Daniello single, putting runners on second and third after an Aaron Hill sacrifice bunt, but Susi struck out swinging to end the first inning.

The Governors couldn't get anything going in their half of the frame after a Copeland lead off single, but in the top of the second, the Huskies added a run. Willy Yahn came around to score after a single and stolen base. Bobby Melley got credit for the RBI. Austin Peay went down 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the frame.

The Huskies loaded the bases in the top of the third. Gnesda led off with a single, Daniello then hit a double, and Hill reaching on an error by the third baseman. This brought Zac Susi to the plate with the bases full and no outs, but he grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. Gnesda was able to come around and score the Huskies' only run of the inning.

Wills Montgomerie got three strikeouts in the bottom of the third, all of them swinging, to match his career-high of six. Copeland singled with two outs, but the Governors couldn't do anything with it.

The Huskies added two more runs in the top of the fourth. Jack Sundberg tripled, Yahn was hit by a pitch, and that was it for Governors starter Alex Robles. He went 3+ innings, allowing seven runs on 10 hits, and only one strikeout. Josh Rye, the new Austin Peay pitcher, loaded the bases, then got two outs, but couldn't quite get out of the inning, allowing a two-run double to Daniello.

The Governors broke the Montgomerie shutout in the bottom of the fourth inning. Cayce Bredlau singled, and after a Robles strikeout, Dre Gleason doubled him home. Josh Wilson got hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second, but Montgomerie ended the threat by striking out Ridge Smith.

The Huskies added yet another run in the fifth. Stefanski led off with a triple, and then Sundberg drew a walk, putting runners on the corners. Willy Yahn doubled Stefanski home, pushing Sundberg to third, but the pair was left stranded. Wills Montgomerie went 1-2-3 once again in the bottom of the fifth.

New Austin Peay pitcher Ricky Heagerty got all three outs the top of the sixth, only allowing one walk. The Governors struck again in the bottom of the inning. Bredlau led off with a double, and Dre Gleason singled him home two batters later.

If there was any doubt the Huskies were going to hold on to this lead, it was erased in the seventh. The Huskies sent 11 men to the plate, scoring seven.

Yahn hit a doubled to send Stefanski home and put runners on second and third. Melley was intentionally walked to load the bases, which was followed up by another walk of DeRoche-Duffin, bringing Sundberg home. Gnesda singled, bringing in Yahn, and that was it for Harmon, who did not record an out.

DeRoche-Duffin and Melley later scored thanks to a fielding error on a ball hit by Aaron Hill. Susi singled to re-load the bases, which brought pinch hitter Connor Buckley to the plate, who singled. Hill and Gnesda scored on the play. Newberg ended the inning with two more outs, and his night was done.

Wills Montgomerie was done after six. Dan Rajkowski came in and pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning.

In the top of the eighth, the Huskies added three more runs. Melley led off, getting to first after being hit by a Shane Lantigua pitch. John Toppa doubled, and then Tyler Gnesda hit a three-run home run to put 18 on the scoreboard for the Huskies.

In the bottom of the frame, the Governors added two more on a two-run home run by pinch hitter Chase Hamilton.

In the top of the ninth, Buckley added a lead-off home run, which completed the scoring. 19-4 final.

Sunday, February 28 - Alcorn State

by Ryan Melillo

The UConn Baseball team was able to keep its bats alive after a productive Friday and Saturday in Sunday's afternoon tilt with Alcorn State. Playing as the away team, the Huskies scored first for the sixth straight game and never looked back in a 25-3 beatdown to complete the sweep at the Austin Peay Tournament in Clarksville, Tennessee.

In the top of the first, senior SS Bryan Daniello got the offense going with a solo home run- his first of the season.  Another run gave the Huskies an early 2-0 lead.

Junior RHP Andrew Zapata got the nod for the afternoon, tossing 5 innings, allowing only 3 runs, one earned.  Zapata got all the run support he could have asked for on the way to earning his first win of the 2016 campaign; a great bounce-back effort following his 2-inning outing at UT-San Antonio last Sunday.

The Huskies widened their lead in the second, sending a total of 11 batters to the plate to score a total of 7 runs to open up the game and make it a 9-0 Connecticut lead.

The Braves managed to plate 3 off of Zapata in the bottom of the second, his only earned runs allowed.  UConn was able to pick up where they left off in the next frame, starting with a solo shot by CF Troy Stefanski (his first career HR), who got the start at center replacing captain Jack Sundberg.  Senior RF Joe DeRoche Duffin followed this by scoring Willie Yahn and Bryan Daniello with a bases-loaded single to make the score 12-3.  Freshman LF John Toppa capped off the strong third with a two-run single to extend the Husky lead to 15-3.

Freshman RHP Ronnie Rossomando continued to look very strong coming out of the bullpen, putting in 2 innings of work.  During the stretch, he put together a 1-2-3 inning in the sixth and struck out two in another clean inning of work in the seventh.

The 6 runs scored in the sixth inning and the 4 runs scored in the seventh put the Huskies at a total of 25 runs, tying its best performance at the plate since the 2010 season, when UConn scored 25 against Central Connecticut State University in the NCAA Tournament.

Andrew Zapata got the win, moving to 1-0 on the season, and the Alcorn State loss went to Daniel Belmont.  The Huskies get a well-earned break during the week, before heading to Lynchburg, Virginia for a 3-game series against Liberty University.  First pitch Friday is slated for 3 PM.