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UConn Baseball Clinches Series Win By Beating USF, 7-3

The Huskies made a late surge to clinch the series and win their eighth consecutive game.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

The Huskies took game two of their series with USF, 7-3. While they managed 15 hits on the day, but the offense wasn't always smooth sailing.

They left runners on first and second to end the first and did the same in the second inning. In the third, a runner on first was erased on an inning-ending double play. In the fourth, runners were on second and third with one out and Tyler Gnesda popped out. It looked like the Huskies were going to end another promising inning without a run.

But then Aaron Hill, the second baseman who bats ninth in the lineup, came up to plate. Hill has been hot lately but is still hitting just .201 on the season. He smacked the first pitch he saw up the middle, scoring two runs and putting the Huskies in front, 2-0.

UConn left 15 runners on in this contest, nine in scoring position, making the game closer than it should have been. Even though they hit 9-28 (.321) with runners on base and 6-20 (.300) with runners in scoring position.

Out of the 10 Huskies that came to the plate, seven got hits, with multi-hit performances from Bobby Melley (3-4), Jack Sundberg (2-6), Zac Susi (3-5), John Toppa (3-5) and Willy Yahn (2-6). Yahn added three RBI to become the third Husky to reach 40 RBI on the season and Aaron Hill got two RBI of his own, reaching 20 on the season. The Husky offense put runners on in every single inning and never took their foot off the pedal.

Tim Cate had another good start, earning his third win of the season. He pitched 6.2 innings, allowing one run on five hits with eight strikeouts to zero walks, a career low for the freshman who has had some control issues so far this season. Randy Polonia also came in, facing two batters. One was a strikeout, one was a solo home run.

In the sixth, Aaron Hill beat out a potential inning-ending double play ball and was pushed across after a Sundberg single and Yahn double. After six, the Huskies had a 3-0 lead.

In the seventh, Joe DeRoche-Duffin led off with a walk, before a wild pitch and John Toppa single moved him to third, then Susi singled him home for what would become the game-winning run.

Jack Sundberg had a one-out single in the eighth and followed it up with his team-leading 17th stolen base of the season. Bobby Melley's third hit, a double, scored Sundberg to make it 5-1 heading into the bottom of the eighth.

Faced with only a two-run lead, with the game at 5-3, UConn put the game out of reach in the ninth. Zac Susi led off with a walk and after a Connor Buckley sacrifice bunt, Aaron Hill walked. Willy Yahn came up with two down and doubled down the left field line, plating both Susi and Hill and increasing the lead to 7-3.

Pat Ruotolo pitched the final two innings, allowing one run on three hits while notching five strikeouts. He got his eighth save of the season in the process.

USF had nine hits and didn't draw any walks, breaking through for one run in the seventh and two more in the eighth, mustering little else on offense.

UConn (32-22, 13-9) looks to complete their third sweep of the season Saturday, with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. The starting pitcher has not been announced.