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No. 23 UConn baseball rolls Memphis in opener

The Huskies held the Tigers to just five hits.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

No. 23 UConn baseball completed finals with the rest of their classmates this week and can now focus solely on baseball. They took that workload off and unloaded on Memphis, cranking out 12 hits in a 5-1 win.

The Huskies started out strong for a pair in the first inning, beginning with leadoff man John Toppa. The left fielder led the way from the top of the lineup with three hits, and after Kyle O’Keefe threw the ball away on shortstop Anthony Prato’s ground ball, catcher Zac Susi had runners on the corners.

The junior captain increased his reached-base streak to 29 games with a single through the right side to open up scoring. Second baseman Michael Woodworth added another run with a good bunt up the first base line to bring in Prato.

UConn added a run in the third after Susi added his second hit of the evening, a double, to lead off the frame. It was Woodworth who brought him in with a single to center field.

That would be all Huskies’ starter Mason Feole needed. He dazzled again, allowing one run on just five hits in 7 2/3 innings of work, walking one to go along with nine strikeouts.

Through the first five innings, Feole allowed just one runner to reach scoring position and he entered the sixth with a two-hit shutout.

One of the only times the Tigers could get solid contact on him was Carlos Williams’ lead-off double in the sixth. After some small-ball and a Cale Hennemann single, the shutout was broken and it was a 3-1 game. Feole was able to bear down and get the final two outs to end the threat.

The Huskies added two insurance runs in the eighth, an inning that was started with a pair of doubles from first baseman Chris Winkel and designated hitter Christian Fedko. Ben Maycock ran for Fedko and third baseman Conor Moriarty brought him in with a sacrifice fly to push the UConn lead to 5-1.

Feole got into trouble in the eighth, hitting a batter on a 1-2 pitch with two outs, to put a pair of Memphis runners on. Jim Penders went to Jake Wallace and after a wild pitch allowed both runners to move into scoring position, Wallace struck out Alex Trela to keep the home squad at bay.

UConn (26-13-1, 10-6) and Memphis play again on Saturday at 3 p.m. Chase Gardner will pitch for the Huskies against Jonathan Bowlan.