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UConn Baseball Beats East Carolina in Conference Opener

The Huskies resisted a late comeback effort by the Pirates to take a huge win.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn Baseball opened conference play on a positive note with a 3-2 win over East Carolina Friday night at Clark-LeClair Stadium in Greensville, North Carolina.

Center fielder Keith Krueger (1-for-3) drove in the game-winning RBI while third baseman Willy Yahn (2-for-4) and shortstop Anthony Prato (2-for-4) drove in a run each.

Tyler Gnesda’s nine-game hitting streak was snapped after an 0-for-4 performance.

UConn starter Tim Cate spun a fabulous outing, going seven strong innings. He allowed only an unearned run and scattered five hits while striking out 13 batters and walking just two.

East Carolina starter Chris Holba shut the Huskies down through their first five at-bats. The Huskies had three singles, but none of them were able to reach second base safely.

The Huskies took advantage of a tiring Holba and broke the tie in the sixth. First baseman Chris Winkel was on second after a single and a sacrifice bunt and then Prato hit a hard single up the middle to bring him home for a 1-0 lead. There could have been more, but Prato and Yahn were picked off on the bases.

The Pirates got one back in the bottom half of the inning but it easily could have been more. Travis Watkins led off with a double and moved to third on a wild pitch. After a strikeout, he induced the chopper to Prato, but his throw was wide and the run scored.

East Carolina got two more runners to second and third, but Cate escaped with a tie.

The Huskies got a pair of insurance runs in the eighth, which was good because they would end up needing them.

Back-to-back doubles by Winkel and Krueger gave Winkel his second run of the game and made it 2-1. Krueger came across on a bloop single by Yahn over second base to give UConn 3-1 advantage.

There was a delay of 52 minutes due to lightning with one out in the bottom of the eighth. After the delay, the Pirates did score a run on a passed ball, but it wasn’t enough. The go-ahead reached base with one out in the ninth but ECU couldn’t get him across.

UConn (14-9) and East Carolina play game two of their series on Saturday afternoon, with a 4 p.m. first pitch.