UConn baseball was unable to win their series with North Florida after winning Friday’s game, dropping both Saturday and Sunday’s contests.
Tim Cate returned to form in the series opener, striking out 10 batters in seven innings of two-run work, while Troy Stefanski was the only player to get a hit in all three games after Sunday’s four-hit performance. He now has a five-game hitting streak.
John Toppa’s streak was snapped at seven games, while Christian Fedko’s reached six.
North Florida got the tying run to second base in the ninth inning in an attempt to erase a 5-1 UConn lead, but PJ Poulin saved a strong performance by starter Tim Cate in the Huskies’ 5-4 victory for their third-straight win.
After two average outings, Tim Cate rebounded with a strong and efficient start. He got through seven innings, allowing two runs on five hits. He struck out 10 for the first time this season and walked one.
UConn exploded for four runs in the second, taking advantage of a lead-off walk followed by an error on Jay Prather at shortstop to put two on with nobody out. First baseman Chris Winkel, center fielder Troy Stefanski and left fielder John Toppa each drove in runs with singles to get the road side off and running quickly.
Designated hitter Christian Fedko scored on a wild pitch in the sixth after a double to begin the frame, but after the second, the Huskies would notch just four hits the rest of the way against a combination of North Florida's Brad Deppermann and Matt Vaka.
The Ospreys got a run on Cate in each of the third and seventh innings but once CJ Dandeneau came into the game to begin the eighth in a 5-2 contest, things got interesting.
Rey Gonzalez had a soft single up the middle and Prather was able to trim the UConn lead to one with a home run. In the following inning, Dalton Board was able to reach on a fielder’s choice and after a Poulin wild pitch was able to reach scoring position with two down, but the junior left-hander ended the game by inducing a ground ball.
UConn fell to North Florida in Saturday’s contest 6-5 after the home side had a five-run opening frame, sending all nine men to the plate.
Mason Feole struggled through the first inning, in which he allowed six hits, including four straight with two outs, but was able to eat up six innings for the Huskies, allowing just two hits and no runs through the rest of his outing.
The Ospreys had runners on first and second with two out and then the floodgates opened, beginning with Mac Wilson’s double into the left field corner. Three consecutive singles later, five North Florida runs had crossed the plate and UConn was behind the eight ball early, but they were able to grind out a comeback.
Third baseman Conor Moriarty stood on third after ripping a one-out double in the third and advancing on a wild pitch. Left fielder John Toppa broke the shutout with an RBI single.
Center fielder Troy Stefanski and shortstop Anthony Prato reached with singles of their own behind him to load the bases and designated hitter Zac Susi shrunk the deficit to two with a two-RBI single, leaving runners on the corners with one out, but North Florida starter Ethan Michaelis escaped the threat.
In the seventh, Moriarty contributed again with a two-run home run to left to tie the game up, but the Huskies would record just two more hits.
The difference on the scoreboard came in the eighth, when Jeff Kersten couldn’t handle a tough toss from first baseman Chris Winkel that would have retired the side. Chris Berry, who walked earlier in the stanza, crossed the plate as the ball rolled into foul territory.
North Florida took Sunday’s rubber match and the series against UConn, grabbing a 4-2 win.
Each team recorded just four hits, but Husky pitching allowed eight Ospreys to reach via the walk, while the visitors walked four times.
James Fitzpatrick scored on a designed play with runners on the corners in the third, getting credit for a steal of home, but UConn answered right back with a pair in the following half inning to take the lead.
Left fielder John Toppa had runners on first and second with one out when Raff Libunao misplayed his drive to right field, allowing second baseman Michael Woodworth to cross the plate. Center fielder Troy Stefanski would put the Huskies ahead with a sacrifice fly.
UConn loaded the bases with a throwing error combined with a pair of walks in the fifth, but Adam Polansky and Trace Narkus allowed just two more hits and three more runners to each base in relief.
The Ospreys took what UConn gave them and scored three runs on just one hit in a wild sixth to go ahead for good.
Dalton Board singled up the middle to bring home the game-tying run and put runners on first and second with nobody out after to walks to begin the inning, and Alex Reynolds loaded the bases when his dribbler to Colby Dunlop on the mound allowed all three to advance safely.
Fitzpatrick came to the plate and during his at-bat, Woodworth committed two errors, one fielding and one throwing, to allow to North Florida runners to score and take a 4-2 lead on the play. It could have been worse, as after inducing a ground ball for the first out, Dunlop walked another batter to reload the bases, but Trevor Holmes came on and got two strikeouts to end the threat.
UConn (5-4) is scheduled to play Yale in their home opener on Wednesday. First pitch is at 3 p.m.