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UConn Baseball Sweeps Houston

After winning the series opener against No. 30 Houston with Anthony Kay on the mound, the Huskies completed the sweep with wins on Saturday and Sunday.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog
Game Two - Saturday

UConn (18-15) had another strong pitching performance Saturday, this time from Freshman starter Tim Cate. He scattered one run and three hits across 7.0 innings, adding six strikeouts against two walks.

Cate (1-1) earned his first career win, leading the Huskies to their fifth straight victory. With the win, UConn clinches its first series win against a conference opponent this season, and it is against the 30th ranked team in the NCBWA poll.

It was another defensive battle, with UConn managing six hits. Houston was only able to muster four. Each team only had a few opportunities, but UConn was able to convert on theirs to earn the victory.

Joe DeRoche-Duffin was the offensive hero for the Huskies, going 1-3 with a two-run home run. Willy Yahn added two hits and an RBI, and Bryan Daniello rebounded from an 0-4 performance Friday with a 2-3 day, adding a walk.

Houston started off hot, scoring in the top half of the first to take a 1-0 lead. Lead-off man Connor Wong earned a walk after working the count full. He took advantage of two wild pitches by Cate and a sacrifice bunt to come around to score what would become the Cougars' only opportunity to score. Over Cate's final six innings, he only allowed four runners to reach base, none of which reached third base.

In the bottom half of the second, UConn came back and tied the game, 1-1. Daniello earned a four-pitch walk, stole second, and after making it to third on an error, was singled home by catcher Alex LeFevre.

The Husky offense largely quiet until their half of the sixth inning. Bobby Melley worked a four-pitch walk and DeRoche-Duffin, the next batter, took an 0-2 pitch deep over the left field fence, to increase the Husky lead to 3-1.

UConn struck again in the following inning. LeFevre walked to lead off the bottom of the seventh, and after an Aaron Hill sacrifice bunt moved him to second, Yahn drove him home when he singled through the left side. Yahn stole second but was stranded there when Melley popped out to short.

After Cate's dominant outing, Randy Polonia came in for the six-out save, his sixth of the season. He only allowed one hit and gave up one walk while striking out four Cougars.


Game Three - Sunday

After two low-scoring affairs with the University of Houston Cougars, UConn scored early and often on Sunday in a 9-1 win to sweep the series.

UConn exploded for nine runs on ten hits, including two home runs, one each from Bobby Melley and Joe DeRoche-Duffin. Wills Montomgerie earned the win. UConn is now 19-15 overall and 5-3 in conference play.

Bobby Melley, a senior first baseman, was excited about the team's performance.

"[I saw] a lot of energy. Going into today, winning the first two, they didn't wanna go down easy. Winning the weekend wasn't enough, we wanted the sweep, and that's exactly what we did. We got hot early."

A lot of Huskies came through offensively, chief among them Melley. He went 2-5 at the plate, including a double and a home run, with three RBI. Joe DeRoche-Duffin and John Toppa also had milti-hit games, with DeRoche-Duffin driving in a team-high four runs.

Wills Montgomerie continued the impressive string of performances by UConn starting pitching. With his 5.1 innings of two-hit, shut-out ball, the trio of Anthony Kay, Cate and Montgomerie combined for 20.2 innings, allowing only two earned runs on nine hits while striking out 20.

Montgomerie threw really well, with his only two hits coming on infield hits that Houston batters simply beat out. Throughout his outing, no one was able to square him up.

In the bottom of the first, Houston starter Mitch Ullom had trouble with his control, walking Jack Sundberg and Willy Yahn on nine pitches. DeRoche-Duffin made him pay. He took an 0-2 pitch out over the right field fence, hitting his team-leading eighth home run of the season. It was 3-0 UConn after one inning and they never looked back.

The Huskies were held quiet until the bottom half of the fifth, and when they broke though, they broke through in terrific fashion. They sent eight men to the plate, and scored four runs on four hits, taking advantage of wild pitches to take the extra base, and being patient, working counts in their favor and getting pitches to hit.

Toppa and Aaron Hill led it off with singles, and each took a base on a wild pitch. Willy Yahn worked his third walk of the afternoon, bringing Bobby Melley up to the plate. He took a first-pitch offering into the right-center gap, scoring two runs to make it 5-0 in favor of the Huskies.

DeRoche-Duffin came up next, getting his fourth RBI with a single, giving Bryan Daniello runners on the corners with one out. He took a 1-0 pitch to left field, and the Houston left fielder made a terrific diving catch right at the line. Melley made the heads-up play and tagged up, putting the Huskies ahead 7-0 after five innings.

In the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh inning, Bobby Melley struck again. He hit a solo shot over the fence in right and it was deep enough to land on the softball field. 8-0 Huskies.

After Houston got a run in the top of the eighth, Toppa led off the bottom of the inning with a double down the right field line. With two outs, Willy Yahn came to the plate and joined the RBI parade, singling Toppa in, to bring the score to the 9-1 final.

UConn next plays in Amherst, Massachusetts, taking on UMass on Tuesday in a midweek contest. First pitch is at 3 p.m.