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UConn Baseball Closes Regular Season With Victory Over USF

The Huskies are victors of nine straight as they sweep their second consecutive conference series, beating USF 3-2.

Ian Bethune

As opposed to the first two games of the series, where UConn was dominating, the Huskies' regular season finale was a true test of their spirit.

In the third inning, UConn had the bases loaded and one out with the middle of the order coming up. Unfortunately, the Huskies left with only one run scored, on a Joe DeRoche-Duffin sacrifice fly.

Starting pitcher Wills Montgomerie helped make up for that lack of offense. Heading into the fifth, he had only allowed two baserunners, neither of which came across to score. In the fifth, he allowed a single and a DeRoche-Duffin error moved that runner to third. He got a strikeout with the next batter, but a 1-0 pitch got too much of the zone, and it ended up over the fence in left for a home run. This was the first time UConn trailed all series.

UConn did not need to win this game. Heading into the day, they could not finish lower than third in the final standings, where they are sitting now. They were going to play one of the worst three teams in The American in next week's conference tournament. It would have been easy to shut it down. But the Huskies battled back and took the lead, sweeping the Bulls in the process.

In the top of the seventh, Connor Buckley pinch-hit for Tyler Gnesda and singled. Aaron Hill came up next and beat out the back-end of a double play. Jack Sundberg came up next, singling. Willy Yahn did his job as the next batter, grounding out to first to move the runners over. Bobby Melley came up next and took the first pitch he saw into right field, bringing two runs home and giving UConn the lead.

Pat Ruotolo came in with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, inheriting a bases-loaded jam. He induced the pop-out to center field to get out of it. Ruotolo went through another adventure in the eighth, with runners on the corners and two outs, getting out of it unscathed. In the bottom of the ninth, Ruotolo allowed one baserunner, but got two strikeouts to secure his ninth save of the year.

Montgomerie (5-3) had another quality start, following up his zero-walk performance from last week with another one this week. He pitched 6.2 innings, allowing two runs on five hits. He added six strikeouts, while hitting one batter.

Jack Sundberg (2-3) and Willy Yahn (2-5) each had two-hit performances, with two RBI belonging to Bobby Melley (1-3) and another for Joe DeRoche-Duffin (0-2).

The Huskies (33-22, 14-9) will play their next game on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in the opening round of the American Athletic Conference tournament against Memphis.