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UConn baseball takes two of three in Atlanta Challenge

The Huskies had a winning opening weekend for the second-straight year.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn baseball is 2-1 on the young season after two wins in the Atlanta Challenge, taking victories over Georgia State and Georgia Tech.

Chris Winkel started off the year hot at 5-for-9 and had hits in all three games along with Christian Fedko, Isaac Feldstein, Conor Moriarty and Michael Woodworth.

Fedko (4-for-8) was an offensive revelation, notching three doubles to lead the team as a freshman.

Game 1

The Huskies started their season off with a loss to the Kennesaw State Owls, 7-3 on Friday.

Tim Cate allowed five runs, four of which were earned, on six hits. He grabbed seven strikeouts against two walks as well in 5 2/3 innings.

Center fielder Troy Stefanski (3-for-4) led the team offensively from the nine-spot, adding a solo home run. All of the Huskies’ runs came on solo shots.

The Owls started it off with a manufactured run in the first after a leadoff double by David Chabut and had two more in the fourth after Cate allowed a solo home run. Another run came across after an error from Michael Woodworth at second base.

Kennesaw State starter AJ Moore had scattered three hits across four innings, striking out six Huskies, but once the Owls went to the bullpen, the bats came alive.

Third baseman Conor Moriarty led off the inning with a homer and Stefanski made it back-to-back home runs after he strode to the plate in the fifth to make it 3-2, and right fielder Isaac Feldstein tied it up to lead off the sixth.

However, Cate could not finish his half of the inning, allowing a two-run home run to Terence Norman that would end his outing.

A pinch-hit double by Christian Fedko in the seventh followed by Stefanski’s third hit in the ninth were all the Huskies could muster offensively for the rest of the contest, while Kennesaw State scored two insurance runs in the eighth off of a Jake Franklin home run.

Game 2

UConn and Georgia State were tied 1-1 after five innings, but the Huskies exploded for four runs in each of the sixth and ninth innings on their way to a 10-1 victory over the Panthers on Saturday.

Mason Feole dazzled, allowing one run on one hit in seven innings of work. He struck out seven and walked three.

Offensively, UConn had 15 hits with five multi-hit performances. Every starter in the line-up also recorded a base knock.

Center fielder Troy Stefanski opened the scoring in the third with an RBI single but Georgia State came back in the fifth to tie proceedings.

Feole allowed a two-out walk to Luke Leonard and allowed him to advance to second after a balk. Leonard would score on a double from Kendall Ford.

The sophomore from Wakefield, Rhode Island rebounded to retire the final seven batters he faced.

In the sixth, the Huskies sent all nine batters to the plate, registering six hits to scratch four runs across. They could have gotten more after loading the bases with one down, but Bryan White induced the double play to get the Panthers out of the inning trailing 5-1.

Right fielder Isaac Feldstein recorded his second RBI with a single in the following frame to make it 6-1 and after a one-inning respite, put up another four-spot in the ninth, again sending all nine spots into the batters’ box.

Colby Dunlop, making his first career appearance, held down the final two innings to preserve the win, allowing a pair of hits. He also notched his first career strikeout.

Game 3

In UConn’s Atlanta Challenge finale, the Huskies scored a pair of runs in the 10th off the bat of center fielder Troy Stefanski to take down the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 7-5.

Chase Gardner did not have the debut in a Husky uniform that he wanted, allowing five runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out three and walked one.

Joey Bart drew first blood as the third Georgia Tech hitter to step to the plate, taking Gardner deep to right-center field, but UConn put up seven unanswered across the second and third to take a commanding lead.

Feldstein got the ball rolling with a leadoff home run, his second of the year, before Fedko legged out a double down the left field line.

Georgia Tech starter Jake Lee struck out two straight, but the Huskies were not done. Center fielder Troy Stefanski had a deep drive that Nick Wilhite misplayed in left-center field and the senior traded places with the freshman to give UConn a 2-1 lead before left fielder John Toppa made it three when he took a ball out of the yard over the left field fence.

The runs kept coming in the third. Fedko had runners on second and third wth nobody out and singled home catcher Zac Susi to give first baseman Chris Winkel an RBI chance with runners on the corners. He kept the line moving with a double that chased Lee from the game and made it 6-1. Fedko came home on a double play ball and the visitors were rolling early.

However, the Georgia Tech bullpen allowed just two hits the next six innings and the Yellow Jackets plugged away, bringing the score to 7-5 after a four-run fifth that would end Gardner’s afternoon.

The home side scored two more in the eighth to send the game to extra innings. Stefanski had runners on second and third with two down and came through with a chopper up the middle, giving Austin Wilhite too much trouble at shortstop and the ball got into the outfield, scoring a pair.

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UConn (2-1) travels back down south next weekend to face Southeastern Louisiana. First pitch for Friday’s contest is at 7 p.m.