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UConn Baseball Wins Game 2 to Clinch Series

John Russell got the single-season saves record in the win over East Carolina.

UConn’s John Toppa rips an RBI double in the 1st inning.
Ian Bethune for The UConn Blog

UConn Baseball took another conference series on Friday with a 6-4 win over East Carolina at J.O. Christian Field.

The Huskies would need some help, but in the final weekend of the season, they still have a chance to win the conference regular season title outright.

If UConn wins Game 3 Saturday, USF and UCF split their two remaining games, and Cincinnati picks up one out of two games against Houston, Jim Penders’ squad would earn The American crown.

“It’s really exciting to be able to play for a championship tomorrow,” catcher Zac Susi said.

John Russell picked up the save, his 14th of the season, to break Kevin Vance’s single-season record set in 2011.

The Huskies picked up right where they left off on Thursday with a pair of runs in the first inning. Center fielder Keith Krueger led it off with a single and moved to third after a sacrifice bunt and passed ball. He would score on a groundout from Susi. Left fielder John Toppa followed it up with a RBI double.

“We were opportunistic,” Penders said. “Toppa hit the crap out of one.”

After Prato snuck home on a double play ball, designated hitter Alex LeFevre made it 5-0 in the third with his second home run in as many days.

UConn starter Wills Montgomerie threw seven-plus innings and gave the Huskies a solid outing, even though he had baserunners throughout the early stages of the game.

“He’s got really good stuff but he’s got a really good demeanor,” Penders said.

UConn got in trouble, however, after Montgomerie exited the game.

East Carolina sent all nine men to the plate in the eighth and with only one hit, brought it to 6-4. The Pirates worked three walks and were hit by two pitches to score three runs.

“We had to go to Russell a little earlier than we wanted to, but if the game is on the line then John Russell has to be on the mound,” Penders said.

Russell got the final two outs in the eighth and came out again in the ninth to get his 14th save of the season.

UConn (31-22, 14-9) goes for the sweep on Saturday at 1 p.m. with Mason Feole on the mound.