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UConn Baseball Beats USF, 9-1, to Advance to AAC Semifinal

The Huskies have now won 11 straight and advance to the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament.

UConn had a pitching advantage Thursday evening against South Florida and it showed. USF was starting their closer, Tommy Eveld, but the Huskies had Tim Cate, their normal Saturday starter, who was coming off the best start of his young career.

UConn rattled off an impressive 17 hits in the second-round matchup while working seven walks. Bryan Daniello led the offensive charge for the Huskies, going 3-4 with two doubles and four RBI. Joe DeRoche-Duffin had a team-high four hits, with two doubles and an RBI. Bobby Melley (3-4), Willy Yahn (1-6) and Zac Susi (0-5) each had an RBI as well.

Tim Cate continued right where he left off in his last start, going 7.1 innings, scattering four hits and allowing just one run. He also had nine strikeouts to one walk. Doug Domnarski, PJ Poulin and Randy Polonia combined to throw 1.2 innings of scoreless, no-hit relief, only allowing two walks.

Collin Sherwin

UConn started the scoring in the bottom of the second when John Toppa, who had led off the inning with a single and stole second, came across the plate on two wild pitches to make it 1-0 in favor of the Huskies.

USF responded in kind with a solo home run to tie the game, but from there on out, it was all UConn.

Eveld was able to hold UConn off until the fifth, when he left the game with injury with no one out. The Huskies were threatening, as one of DeRoche-Duffin's doubles put runners on second and third.

The USF replacement had pitched a day prior in the Bulls' win over East Carolina, and Daniello had no problem jumping on the potentially fatigued pitcher. He took a 2-0 pitch down the right field line, getting two of his RBI, giving the Huskies a 3-1 lead.

Daniello was able to score on two productive outs by Toppa and Zac Susi to push it to 4-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth.

UConn added three more in the sixth, with Melley, DeRoche-Duffin and Daniello again in the thick of things. Aaron Hill singled and Jack Sundberg walked. Melley came to the plate next and took an 0-1 pitch into right for an RBI. Sundberg took the extra base, and the Huskies had runners on the corners with one out.

DeRoche-Duffin came up and doubled down the left field line, scoring Sundberg and again putting runners on second and third for Daniello. He flew out to center, but it was deep enough to push Melley across for a 7-1 Huskies lead after five and a half innings.

When Daniello came up in the eighth, DeRoche-Duffin and Melley were again on base, this time on first and second with no one out. He doubled to left, but was out after getting caught in a rundown between second and third. Melley was able to score and increase the lead to 8-1.

UConn added one more run for good measure in the ninth inning. Hill and Sundberg singled in back-to-back at-bats with one out. Hill was able to go from first to third, so there were runners on the corners for Willy Yahn. He grounded into a fielder's choice, beating out the back end of a double play, allowing Hill to cross the plate for UConn's ninth and final run of the evening.

UConn (35-22, 14-9) looks to make it 12 consecutive victories in a semifinal match up on Saturday which will be between the winner of USF and Memphis on Friday. First pitch will be at 1 p.m.

If UConn wins, they will be in the final on Sunday. If the Huskies lose, they will play the same opponent at 7 p.m.