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UConn Baseball Drops Two Against East Carolina

Huskies waste a Kay gem as Friday's rained-out game resumed then squander lead after Sundberg grand slam in the regularly scheduled game.

UConn Baseball coach Jim Penders was not pleased with a late strike call that changed outcome of game possibly.
UConn Baseball coach Jim Penders was not pleased with a late strike call that changed outcome of game possibly.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog
Game 1

Anthony Kay threw six shutout innings, only allowing five hits. He was going strong until the game was suspended due to rain, ending with eight strikeouts against zero walks, only throwing 90 pitches in the rain-shortened Friday portion of the first game of the series.

AnthonyKayECUGame1

Ian Bethune

After a clean seventh for both sides, ECU added two runs in the eighth, and two in the ninth. In the eighth, two singles, a sacrifice bunt and a Pat Ruotolo error netted them two runs, giving the Pirates a 2-0 lead. In the ninth, the Pirate offense had a single, a double and a walk to bring in two more, giving the Huskies a 4-0 deficit going into the bottom of the ninth.

In the Huskies' half of the ninth, three walks on 13 pitches loaded the bases for Bryan Daniello. He hit a double deep into the right-center gap, clearing the bases and making it a one-run game. ECU closer Joe Ingle buckled down after that, striking out three straight Huskies with the tying run Daniello stranded at third. The final score was 4-3.

Game 2

The second game of the series saw an offensive explosion, with ECU prevailing once again, this time by a score of 11-9. Randy Polonia took the loss and falls to 3-3 on the season.

UConn had one bad inning, the seventh, where the Pirates sent nine men to the plate and scored five runs. The visitors took a 10-6 lead and would not look back.

The loss overshadowed a three-hit performance by Aaron Hill, Jack Sundberg's second grand slam of the season and a four-RBI performance by Willy Yahn.

After a quick first, ECU struck for three runs in the second. The Pirates had second and third with no one out, scoring three runs on two singles and a fielder's choice.

UConn came back in the third with two of their own on a two-out rally. Hill got one of his three hits, then Sundberg reached on an error by the left fielder, advancing to second on the play, pushing Hill to third. Willy Yahn came to bat and rocketed a ground ball at the third baseman. It deflected off his glove, giving Yahn a single. Both Hill and Sundberg scored as the ball skittered towards second base into no man's land. After three, it was 3-2.

ECU picked up a run in the fifth, on a solo home run, but UConn took the lead in the bottom half of the inning on Sundberg's grand slam. Zac Susi, Connor Buckley and Hill each singled to start the inning. On a 2-1 count, Sundberg launched a no-doubter into right, over the fence. The home run gave the Huskies a 6-4 lead after five full innings.

Sundberg grand slam game 2

Ian Bethune

But the Pirates broke through in the seventh for five runs. They sent nine men to the plate, only registering three hits. UConn pitching hit three batters and walked another despite typically having good control as a staff, only walking 154 batters through 377 innings, averaging 3.6 walks per nine innings. A wild pitch added to UConn's troubles in the damaging inning.

Despite fighting back to bring the deficit to 10-9, UConn was unable to come back.

ECU added a run in the top of the eighth and the Huskies went down quietly in their final two at-bats to finish the game. The end, however, was not without controversy.

Aaron Hill took a 2-0 pitch off the back to start the ninth, bringing Sundberg to the plate. He worked the count full and took a pitch that appeared to be ball four. A full couple of seconds passed before Sundberg was rung up by home plate umpire Kirk Domanick and Hill had already started to jog to second. He was picked off trying to return to first. Coach Jim Penders was not happy, but after a meeting between the umpires, the call stood.

"He said he never called a ball," Penders said after the game. "I said, 'how can you wait that long? You never punched a guy out like that all game.''

UConn falls to 24-21 overall, 8-8 in the conference. The Huskies finish the series with ECU on Sunday. First pitch is at 11:30 a.m.