On an extremely cold and blustery day in New Britain, Connecticut, UConn baseball came out with their third-consecutive victory after using a four-run 10th inning to top CCSU, 7-3.
The Huskies, who were down 3-1 after six innings, have now played 17 true road games to begin the year, a program record.
Jeff Kersten pitched five innings for UConn and though he was shaky early on, he was able to dance around trouble. He gave up five hits and three walks while striking out six and allowing one run to score.
Dean Lockery and Chris Kanios led the Blue Devils’ half of the first off with hard singles. Due to a wild pitch that put Lockery on second, he came across the plate on Kanios’ base knock for a 1-0 lead early.
Kersten would walk three of the next four leadoff men he faced, including Lockery twice. However, he would not allow another CCSU runner to cross the plate, stranding five Blue Devils - including Kanios - on third in the first.
“[Kersten] looked a little bit tentative after that first base hit and he can’t be,” Penders said. “He did strand a couple runners in scoring position, so that was a positive.”
Meanwhile, the UConn offense continued to sputter in the bitter weather. Catcher Thad Phillips (3-for-4) reached in the second on a single and once more in the fourth, scoring on a sacrifice fly from designated hitter Christian Fedko. After six innings, the Huskies had just three hits.
In the bottom of the sixth, Ronnie Rossomando walked the first two batters he faced. CCSU increased their lead to 3-1 when Jake Siracusa took advantage of the infield being in, registering a soft single through the right side.
However, UConn was not done.
Enter Stanley Walpuik, who began his relief outing in the seventh. To lead off the frame, Phillips was hit by a pitch on a full count and after first baseman Chris Winkel’s hard single to right field, Walpuik’s short appearance was over.
Phillips took the extra base, allowing him to come home on a productive out from Fedko, who earned his second RBI of the day when he beat out the back end of a double play.
Shortstop Anthony Prato aided in completing the comeback when he began the eighth with a hard line drive to right field. He stole second and after a productive out from center fielder Troy Stefanski, came home on left fielder John Toppa’s sacrifice fly.
“It didn’t look like we were going to score, we got three sac flies,” Penders said. “Resilience has to be a trademark of our program.”
Prato led off the 10th with an infield single and Stefanski roped a double into the right-center field gap, setting the stage for right fielder Isaac Feldstein. He came through with the Huskies’ third sacrifice fly of the day before Phillips’ three-run homer snuck inside the left field foul pole to put it away.
“I knew he was throwing fastballs all day, I just had to see one in,” Phillips said.
UConn (10-7) takes on USF to open American Athletic Conference play on Friday. Tim Cate is slated to be on the mound for the Huskies.