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NCAA Baseball Tournament: UConn Falls to Florida, 6-5

In a back-and-forth affair, the Huskies were unable to upset No.1 overall seed Florida. They took their first loss in the double-elimination tournament.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

The UConn Huskies showed a lot of fight in their 6-5 loss to Florida. The Gators had leads of 2-1 and 5-2, but each time the Huskies came back to tie the game. In the end, Florida's relief pitching was too much for them to overcome.

Anthony Kay, typically dominant on the mound, was touched for five runs, four of which were earned, on eight hits in 5.2 innings. He struck out three and walked two.

Despite the less than stellar numbers, he left with the game tied and the Huskies in position to win. He did, however, outlast his counterpart in Florida starting pitcher AJ Puk, who is a possible top pick in next week's MLB Draft. Puk threw 4.1 innings, allowing five runs, four of which were earned. He left the game with Willy Yahn at the plate and a 2-1 count after he threw a wild pitch that allowed a run and got the Huskies within one.

The UConn bullpen only allowed four hits and one run over the final 3.1 innings of the game, but it was a solo home run by Florida third baseman Jonathan India to lead off the eighth that gave the Gators the edge. Devin Over served it up and took the loss as a result. Doug Domnarski, Randy Polonia and Dan Rajkowski combined for 1.2 no-hit innings, only allowing two walks.

Offensively, Bobby Melley led the way for UConn. He went 2-3 with a walk and a towering home run over the scoreboard in right field. Aaron Hill (2-3) added an RBI, as did Jack Sundberg (0-4) and Willy Yahn (0-3). Bobby Melley has now hit in 11 straight games, while Yahn's streak is broken at 12.

Outside of the Melley home run, the UConn offense took what Puk and the Gators' defense gave them and gritted out runs. In the third, Gnesda reached on a dropped fly ball by the center fielder, making it to second. UConn tied the game on a single and a fielder's choice.

In the fourth, the Gators ground out a run of their own, behind a one-out walk and two singles before a two-run home run off the bat of Peter Alonso (2-5) gave Florida a 5-2 lead. Again, the Huskies came back in the following half-inning by doing the little things.

John Toppa (1-4) led off the bottom of the fifth with a double. Zac Susi (0-2) followed with a hit by pitch and after a Tyler Gnesda (1-3) single, UConn had the bases loaded with no one out. Aaron Hill came to the plate and singled hard up the middle, bringing home Toppa.

Willy Yahn came to the plate with one out and the bases loaded. The 1-1 pitch to Yahn was in the dirt and got away from the catcher. Everyone moved up 90 feet, with Susi coming across the plate to close the gap to 5-4. Puk was pulled mid-count and Dane Dunning came in to pitch.

Yahn was able to lift one to center deep enough for Gnesda to come home and tie the game, but that was all he would allow. Melley was the next and final Husky to reach base, singling to left, and he was promptly erased with a 5-4-3 double play to end the eighth.

Despite close calls, leaving runners on the corners twice, Florida was only able to score one more run, the decisive run. India took Devin Over deep over the left field fence on a 2-1 pitch to give Florida the 6-5 lead which the Gators would hold onto for the win.

Coach Penders spoke about UConn's fight and competitiveness.

"They out-played us tonight, but I don't think they out-competed us," he said. "I thought we competed very well, and there's nothing to be ashamed of."

UConn (38-24) will play Georgia Tech in an elimination game Sunday at 12 p.m. on ESPN3. If the Huskies win, they will play a rematch with Florida at 6 p.m.