UConn Baseball opened the American Athletic Conference tournament with a win on Tuesday as they dispensed the Cincinnati Bearcats at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida, 12-3.
Third baseman Willy Yahn hit a grand slam in the bottom of the seventh of a 4-3 game to put it away for the Huskies.
PJ Poulin gave UConn four innings in the starting role, allowing one run on six hits. He struck out four and walked one.
Cincinnati struck first after three consecutive singles netted them a run in the second, but the Huskies came back in the third with a pair of runs to take the lead.
Second baseman Aaron Hill led the inning off with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, allowing him to score on left fielder John Toppa’s double into the gap. Toppa came home on a single up the middle from shortstop Anthony Prato, giving UConn a 2-1 lead.
They made it 3-1 in the following inning when designated hitter Alex LeFevre ripped a double that got over the head of RJ Thompson in center field to bring home Yahn.
After Poulin left the game, the Bearcats came back with two runs to tie it up in the fifth. Connor McVey doubled and then came home on a sacrifice fly to make it 3-3.
However, it would not stay tied for long as right fielder Isaac Feldstein doubled in the bottom half of the inning to plate Prato and UConn held a slim 4-3 lead heading into the later innings.
UConn was quiet in the sixth but broke it open in the seventh. Toppa and Prato both reached on errors and with runners on second and third, Cincinnati elected to intentionally walk Feldstein to get to Yahn. He made the Bearcats pay for that decision as he jumped on a first pitch and sent it over the left-field wall.
Sam Nepiarsky helped the Huskies close it out with four perfect innings of relief, while UConn scored four more runs on just one hit after Cincinnati walked the bases loaded to begin the eighth. Toppa hit a sacrifice fly before Prato tripled home two more runs. He also scored on a fielder’s choice.
UConn (32-23) will face Houston on Thursday at 3 p.m. in a winner’s bracket contest. Tim Cate is the probable UConn starter.