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UConn baseball takes two from St. John’s

The Huskies rebounded to win two straight after suffering a big loss on Friday.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn baseball began its journey back to Storrs from South Carolina after their spring break trip with a detour to Queens to play a weekend set with St. John’s. The series was originally supposed to be split, with a game at J.O. Christian Field on Sunday, but the weather had other plans, forcing all three games to be played on the turf at Jack Kaiser Stadium.

The Huskies were dominated on Friday, 14-4, but settled down the Red Storm’s offense for victories on Saturday and Sunday to take the series.

Center fielder Troy Stefanski (.345 AVG/.373 OBP/.527 SLG) now leads the team in batting average. He and infielder Christian Fedko (.265/.345/367) were the only UConn players to register a hit in all three games as the team’s offense continued to sputter, notching only 17 hits on the weekend. Catcher Zac Susi (.333/.385/.367) has reached base in his last eight games.

Game 1

UConn drew first blood, grabbing a 1-0 lead after one half inning, but it was all St. John’s from there, as the Red Storm rolled to a 14-4 win on Friday.

Tim Cate matched up against Collegiate National Team teammate Sean Mooney and Mooney got the better of him. Cate lasted just five innings, allowing eight runs, six earned, on 11 hits. He walked three and struck out four as well.

Mooney settled down after giving up the early run. He retired the next eight batters he faced and though he allowed a two-run home run to right fielder Isaac Feldstein, his sixth of the year, in the fourth. UConn smacked eight hits off of him, but could never string enough hits together to score any meaningful runs except for a Prato RBI single in the ninth.

Meanwhile, the Red Storm jumped out to an 8-3 lead after four innings.

Matt Woods grabbed an RBI single as the second St. John’s hitter to reach the plate and the Red Storm were up 3-0 one inning after a two-RBI double from Anthony Brocato. The game-winning RBI came just one inning later on another single from Woods. St. John’s iced it with a four-run seventh.

Game 2

The middle game of the series could not be less like the opener as UConn took a 1-0 victory over St. John’s on Saturday. Center fielder Troy Stefanski scored the contest’s only run after reaching on a walk to lead off the sixth inning.

Mason Feole pitched a strong game for the Huskies, going for six shutout innings. He was not perfect, allowing seven hits and two walks, but he did strike out eight and made pitches when he needed to get out of jams.

Offensively for UConn, they could not get anything going against Kevin Magee, who allowed two hits over six innings. Reliever Joe LaSorsa surrendered just one more over his three innings of relief, but that turned out to make the difference.

The Red Storm failed to capitalize on their opportunities, stranding nine men on base.

The Huskies’ run came after first baseman Vinnie Pallisco sacrificed left fielder John Toppa and Stefanski over to second and third, respectively. After right fielder Isaac Feldstein struck out to make the second out, Thad Phillips came to the plate.

After a ball on an 0-2 pitch, Toppa intentionally drifted far off of second base, drawing a throw from Robert Boselli III behind the plate. He got into a rundown, allowing Stefanski to cross the plate.

PJ Poulin earned his fourth save of the season, striking out two against one hit in the ninth. He combined with Jake Wallace to complete the shutout, as Wallace had three strikeouts in two perfect innings of work.

Game 3

It was another pitching duel in the rubber match on Sunday and it again favored UConn as the Huskies took the series with St. John’s with a 3-1 win.

Chase Gardner had his best outing in a UConn uniform, allowing one run on five hits in 4 2/3 innings and arrived in the fifth inning with a two-hit shutout.

However, the Red Storm scored on a sacrifice bunt sandwiched between a pair of singles, one by Luke Stampfl and the RBI came off the bat of Robert Boselli III. Wyatt Mascarella singled to put two on with one out, but Gardner struck out the last batter he faced and Ronnie Rossomando came on to end the threat by inducing a ground ball to Michael Woodworth at second.

Rossomando would pitch the sixth and seventh for 2 1/3 perfect innings with two strikeouts. Jake Wallace was given the eighth inning on the second consecutive day, allowing just a two-out single and PJ Poulin earned another save after a lead-off base knock.

The Huskies only had five hits on the afternoon but made the only two they strung together count, as they scored three runs on just a pair of hits in their half of the sixth.

UConn had two on after shortstop Anthony Prato singled and left fielder John Toppa walked. Right fielder Isaac Feldstein tripled to clear the bases and came across on a productive out from catcher Thad Phillips as insurance.

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UConn will open its home slate against Quinnipiac on Tuesday. First pitch is at 3 p.m.