No. 21 UConn baseball was trailing 2-1 headed into the eighth inning, but a five-run frame delivered secured a victory over Northeastern on Wednesday despite the home side’s best effort to come back in a 6-5 win.
“Crazy things happen here,” head coach Jim Penders said. “It seems to always go down to the wire.”
With two down in the eighth, center fielder Troy Stefanski worked a walk to set the stage for second baseman Michael Woodworth. He entered in an eight-pitch battle with Northeastern pitcher Kyle Murphy, featuring multiple pickoff attempts of the speedy senior at first base.
On the eighth pitch, Woodworth dropped a blooper just over the outstretched glove of Ian Fair at second base.
“He did not get great swings off, but he was able to foul stuff off,” Penders said. “He found enough green to get it down.”
Northeastern head coach Mike Glavine then went to his closer, left-hander Andrew Misiaszek, to face left-handed first baseman Chris Winkel.
The sophomore stayed inside a two-strike pitch from the junior and used the deep alley in right-center field to deposit a line drive, scoring two and giving the lead back to UConn.
“That had to have been one of the hardest-hit balls I’ve seen all year,” Penders said.
Designated hitter Christian Fedko added an insurance run with a single and third baseman Conor Moriarty made it 6-2 with a two-run home run.
In the bottom half, UConn nearly gave it right back. Reliever Jacob Wallace struck out Max Burt, but catcher Zac Susi couldn’t haul it in. His throw down to first was errant, allowing Burt to reach base. After two outs and a passed ball, Cam Walsh lined the ball up the middle for one run and pinch hitter Kyle Peterson followed with a homer to bring the hosts to within one.
“We’ve been talking about Susi’s footwork on blocked third strikes for three years,” Penders said. “He kind of floated after it and didn’t set his feet.”
Closer PJ Poulin helped UConn escape after entering to face left-handed leadoff hitter Charlie McConnell with the tying run on second.
The only other UConn scoring in the contest came in the first, when Susi reached in his 33rd-straight game with a single that moved shortstop Anthony Prato on third. He scored on a Stefanski groundout.
Northeastern responded with a pair of runs in the third, both charged to UConn starter Colby Dunlop.
UConn (29-14-1) returns to Dunkin’ Donuts Park on Friday at 7:05 p.m. against Houston, with Mason Feole starting for the Huskies against Cougars ace Trey Cumbie.