A rough fifth inning sunk the Huskies. Starting pitcher Trevor Holmes allowed runners on first and third with one out, spurring UConn head coach Jim Penders to go to his bullpen.
CJ Dandeneau came in and struggled, allowing three consecutive hits that lead to three runs for ECU, giving them a 3-0 lead. He gave up another run in the sixth before getting pulled in favor of Tim Cate, who got the final out of the inning.
Outside of Dandeneau, the Huskies’ typically shaky bullpen finished the game strong as Cate, Joe Simeone and PJ Poulin held the Pirates scoreless over the final 2.1 innings.
The Huskies’ struggled to produce much offensively outside of the sixth inning, where a single from first baseman Chris Winkel and sacrifice fly from third baseman Conor Moriarty gave UConn a pair of runs to pull back within a run at 3-2. They scratched another run across in the eighth but could not close the gap on the Pirates.
UConn blew a major chance in the third inning, when they loaded the bases with none out with the middle of the lineup coming up. However, ECU starter Jake Agnos struck out three straight batters to keep the game scoreless.
Despite notching 11 hits and drawing two walks, the Huskies only mustered three runs, leaving 10 men on base. UConn also struck out 13 times.
Holmes started for the Huskies on a bullpen day and threw well enough to give UConn a chance to win. Although he got into trouble in the first and third innings, Holmes pitched himself out of the jams and allowed just one run through 4 1/3 innings.
Even with the loss, UConn will almost certainly earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and could still host a regional as a top-16 seed. Before the game, the Huskies were ranked No. 16 in RPI and have a strong resume with few bad losses and a strong road record.
UConn will have to wait to until Sunday at 8:30 p.m. to see if they are hosting a regional. That announcement will come on ESPN’s Bottom Line. The field of 64 will be announced at 12 p.m. on ESPNU.