UConn Baseball and UCF traded leads all weekend, and the final game of their series was no different. This game was tied, 3-3, after six innings before the Knights took a lead with a run in the seventh. The Huskies had a 6-4 lead with two out in the top of the ninth, lost it, and still came out on top, 7-6.
“I don’t remember starting a doubleheader at 8:30 a.m... I don’t remember playing games in these types of temperatures,” head coach Jim Penders said. “These kids showed tremendous amounts of fight and as ugly as the baseball was, we just kept coming.”
With two outs in the eighth inning, centerfielder Troy Stefanski hit a soft ground ball up the middle with right fielder Isaac Feldstein on second. Feldstein rounded the bases to tie the game at four.
“I’m yelling at him, ‘Let’s go, keep coming.’ Thank God he kept running,” Penders said.
Second baseman Christian Fedko singled hard and first baseman Chris Winkel walked, loading the bases for third baseman Michael Woodworth, whose line drive to left field scored two.
“He showed confidence and hit one right on the screws,” Penders said.
Just as the Huskies refused to give in during the eighth, the Knights did all they could in the ninth, going up against the travel curfew.
Griffin Bernardo worked a walk to lead off the ninth and four batters later, Rylan Thomas was in the batter’s box with the bases loaded and two down. He took a 2-2 PJ Poulin fastball up the middle to score two runs.
The left-hander induced a ground ball to get his team to the plate with a tie game and they repaid him.
The Huskies did not put a ball in play during the frame but still found a way to win. Shortstop Anthony Prato worked and catcher Zac Susi each drew a walk. The next batter was hit by pitch, leading to a pitching change for UCF.
The Knights kept putting UConn on base, however, as Garrett Westberg allowed Anthony Nucerino to reach on a walk. Westberg’s second delivery to designated hitter Thad Phillips flew wide and Prato was able to score from third after the wild pitch.
“We knew we had to get it done there,” Prato said. “Put together tough at-bats and make things happen and that’s what we did.”
Next up, UConn (17-10, 4-3) plays Bryant at home on Tuesday. First pitch is at 3 p.m. at J.O. Christian Field.