UConn baseball had a 2-0 lead after seven innings, but USF came back for a 3-2 win in the rubber match of this weekend’s three-game series. The Bulls hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth to claim the victory.
Both starting pitchers dominated the day, as the game’s scoring did not begin until the seventh inning.
UConn left-hander Chase Gardner had struggled to complete the fifth inning in his previous starts, but went out Sunday and threw 5 2/3 shutout innings, allowing only four hits with just two walks. Gardner also struck out five.
At the plate, the Bulls weren’t able to muster anything against the junior until the sixth. Duke Stunkel, Jr. was on first with two down and Gardner chose to pitch around Joe Genord, who had four home runs in just 54 at-bats headed into the weekend.
He then hit Chris Chatfield with a pitch, loading the bases and ending his start in favor of Jake Wallace, who got the ground ball he wanted but had to cover first after a great play by Chris Winkel on the right side.
USF starting pitcher Collin Sullivan matched his counterpart’s performance, throwing six-plus innings of one-run ball. He retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced and allowed just four Huskies to reach base before the seventh.
A single by catcher Zac Susi’s single caused Sullivan’s exit. His replacement, Richie Cruz, did not help matters. Husky right fielder Isaac Feldstein earned a base knock of his own and designated hitter Thad Phillips worked a walk on a full count, leading USF to head to the bullpen again with the bases loaded.
Center fielder Troy Stefanski broke the tie after a grounder to third. David Villar made a great play, but his throw pulled Tyler Dietrich off of home plate and everyone was safe. UConn took a 2-0 lead after Christian Fedko’s double-play ball.
PJ Poulin came in for the six-out save in the eighth but did not fare well, giving up all three USF runs. Genord hit a two-run home run to tie it and Stunkel, Jr. hit a bloop single over second base for the walk-off win.
Next up, UConn (11-9, 1-2) plays Boston College on the road on Tuesday. First pitch is at 3 p.m. and Jeff Kersten will be on the hill for the Huskies.