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No. 24 UConn baseball rebounds for series win against Tulane

UConn takes the rubber game behind strong pitching effort from Jeff Kersten.

UConn’s Jeff Kersten (38) went 6 2⁄3 innings, allowing two runs while striking out three to pick up his second win of 2018.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn baseball now has a winning record on five consecutive weekends as the Huskies took the series with Tulane on Sunday with a 9-2 win in a game lengthened by a 42-minute rain delay.

“We’re clicking on all cylinders for sure,” left fielder John Toppa said. “The goal is to win two out of three every weekend no matter who you’re playing.”

Tulane scored in the first on a Jonathon Artigues RBI single, but unlike Saturday, UConn came back with a run in the bottom half on right fielder Isaac Feldstein’s sacrifice fly to left field and then doubled down with three more runs in the following inning.

First baseman Chris Winkel drilled his fourth home run of the year to right to begin the frame, and the Huskies had runners on the corners after designated hitter Christian Fedko and Michael Woodworth each singled.

Fedko came in after Woodworth stole second and Acy Owen’s throw sailed into center. Woodworth took third on the play and then scored safely when he rushed Trevor Jensen’s throw from first on left fielder John Toppa’s chopper.

“We just tried to stay aggressive out of the gate and there was no panic when they scored first,” Toppa said. “We just wanted to get the first couple guys on and go to work. We did that and it set the tone.”

Jeff Kersten repaid his offense’s support with a performance that UConn has come to expect. Delivering only 74 pitches, he spun 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball. He retired 12 of 16 batters he faced from the second through the end of the fifth inning.

“I think he could have gone the distance today,” head Jim Penders said. “We just had a semi-rested PJ Poulin, who I always want in the game at the end.”

Kersten hit Tulane’s Kody Hoese with a pitch in the sixth and then Trevor Jensen drilled a double to put runners on second and third. A pair of groundouts netted the Green Wave their second run. With the left-handed batter Owen coming to the plate, Penders went to PJ Poulin, who ended the threat with a strikeout to preserve the 4-1 lead.

Third baseman Conor Moriarty led off the bottom of the sixth with a single and after Toppa’s double and Prato’s third hit of the day, the home team’s lead was 5-1. Catcher Zac Susi, who walked in the fourth to extend his reached-base streak to 28 games, added to it with a sacrifice fly.

Winkel scored in the seventh after leading the inning off with a hit-by-pitch and the Huskies added another pair in the eighth, one of which came on Feldstein’s 12th home run on the year, allowing the Huskies to cruise to victory.

UConn (25-13-1, 9-6) has the week off for finals before they head to Memphis on Friday, May 4. First pitch is at 7:30 p.m.