“You just want to go hug all those guys that left everything out on the field,” UConn head coach Jim Penders said. “The finality of it all is really difficult.”
In the bottom half of the third, Washington sent 10 men to the plate and tied the game 6-6, scoring five runs in the frame.
Joe Wainhouse hit his third home run of the regional to cut the deficit to 6-4 after Braiden Ward singled and Nick Kahle was hit by a pitch, before Willie MacIver brought his team within one with a single into left.
After two straight singles, McIver crossed the plate on a Mason Cerrillo sacrifice fly to right field and opened up a brand new ballgame.
Penders left his starter Jeffrey Kersten in to battle through and Kersten gave his squad five innings. He allowed six runs on 12 hits, walking one and striking out three.
“After the home run [Kersten] was dialed back in,” Penders said. “He was competing and getting through Susi with his stuff.”
Colby Dunlop picked up in relief where UConn’s starter left off to begin his outing, delivering shutout frames in the sixth and seventh, before Washington broke through thanks to some miscues by the infield.
“Out infield defense fell apart,” Penders said. “We hadn’t seen that all year.”
Cerrillo reached on a throwing error by shortstop Anthony Prato and stood on second after a sacrifice bunt. Dunlop intentionally walked Wainhouse to avoid the hot hitter and give UConn a force at three bases.
Dunlop induced a ground out and looked like he got a double play ball to get out of the inning, but second baseman Michael Woodworth waited for the 6-foot-7 Wainhouse to run by, preventing him from fielding the ball and loading the bases.
AJ Graffanino delivered the death knell, lining an 0-2 pitch into the right field corner, clearing the bases.
UConn started off blistering, riding the momentum from the previous game’s win that finished only 2 1/2 hours before this one got started.
Woodworth worked a walk, Zac Susi made it 49 consecutive games reaching base with a single and Isaac Feldstien took a base on balls to load the bases with just one out.
Troy Stefanski started his 5-for-5 performance with a liner into second to score a run and John Toppa grabbed two of his three RBI with a line drive through the right side.
Washington added a run in the bottom half, but after a one-inning respite, UConn added another trio to make it 6-1.
“[His cutter] was flat in the first couple innings and we were getting some barrels to it,” Penders said. “We took some of the best swings we took all weekend.”
Susi, Feldstein and Stefanski led off the frame with singles and Toppa brought home Susi with a sacrifice fly deep to right field, onto the warning track.
Chris Winkel executed a great drag bunt to plate Feldstein and Conor Moriarty doubled down the left field line for a third run.
UConn (37-22-1), who set a program record with 22 road wins, sees its season end and its players depart for their post-baseball lives, summer ball or an attempt at professional careers.