UConn baseball was deadlocked with Hartford 0-0 after six innings but was able to come away with its fourth consecutive win on Saturday with a 1-0 win over the Hawks at Dunkin Donuts Park.
Left fielder John Toppa had the only RBI on a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
In a game where neither team was able to muster much of anything offensively, Hartford had the first true offensive chance of the contest. Jackson Olson and Zachary Ardito registered back-to-back singles in the second and Robert Carmody moved them both over with a sacrifice bunt, putting two in scoring position with one out.
Drew DeMaritno hit a line drive to right, but Isaac Feldstein caught the ball running in and gunned down Olson, who was trying to score.
“It was a huge momentum swing,” head coach Jim Penders said. “It didn’t look like anyone was going to score today...It was a perfect throw.”
Gardner would allow two into scoring position in the third, also with one out, but that would be all the Hawks would get. He would face 14 more hitters and all 14 of them would be retired.
He pitched seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits. He struck out six and walked two.
“I didn’t have my fastball command [early], but once I locked it in and was throwing consistent strikes, that’s when I really took off,” Gardner said.
As for UConn’s starting pitching, dating back to Gardner’s last start against USF on March 25, they have not allowed a run in 35 consecutive innings.
Gardner gave the Huskies the start they wanted, but they were not able to generate anything offensively.
“Some days you have to tip your cap to the opponent,” Penders said. “Dombkowski did a really good job moving the ball around.”
Catcher Zac Susi doubled in the first due to a miscommunication down the left field line by three Hartford defenders, but Nicholas Dombkowski would not allow another hit until the sixth, when Susi returned to the plate.
UConn would get a runner on third that frame, but designated Thad Phillips got into a rundown between first and second and was retired.
However, Dombkowski would begin to tire and the Huskies got a run in seventh.
Second baseman Christian Fedko and first baseman Chris Winkel singled, then third baseman Michael Woodworth loaded the bases for Toppa. His deep drive to left field reached the warning track before it was caught by Chris Sullivan, and it was deep enough to bring in Conor Moriarty, who pinch-ran for Fedko.
“I like to see us make some adjustments a little sooner,” Penders said.
Hartford did not go down quietly, as they loaded the bases with two down in the eighth and looked poised to tie it in the ninth when Jackson Olson got to second with one out, but PJ Poulin worked with shortstop Anthony Prato to pick him off and end the threat.
UConn (15-9) returns to action at J.O. Christian Field on Tuesday against Fairfield. First pitch is at 3 p.m.