UConn baseball split its games this weekend in the Baseball at the Beach Tournament, falling to Davidson 4-3 but rebounding against Coastal Carolina by winning a 5-4 extra-innings thriller.
Saturday vs. Davidson
After a solid win against Miami (Ohio) on Friday, UConn’s offense sputtered in the second game of the weekend, a 4-3 loss to Davidson. It was the Huskies’ fourth one-run loss of the season.
Missed opportunities on offense were the theme of the day. The first three men up for UConn all reached base; shortstop Zach Bushling was hit by a pitch, left fielder Erik Stock singled to left field and catcher Patrick Winkel poked one through the right side. But the next three Huskies were retired in order, and they wouldn't get another runner on base until three innings after that.
UConn starting pitcher Joe Simeone was doing his job to keep the Huskies in it. He held the Wildcats scoreless through three innings, and ended the day with two strikeouts and two walks, allowing four hits. He got in slight trouble in the fourth, losing the strike zone and hitting a Davidson batter together with a pair of singles and a sacrifice fly put Davidson up 2-0.
Kevin Ferrer, making his first start in left field of the season, helped get UConn on the board for the first time with a double to lead off the fifth inning. Zach Bushling eventually would come up clutch with a two-out single that sent Ferrer home.
In the next inning, Patrick Winkel reached on an error, moved to second on a single from Christian Fedko, and was scored a David Langer sacrifice fly that tied the game.
Kenny Haus relieved Simeone and retired the first five batters he saw, but ran into trouble in the 7th, giving up a single and a homer that put Davidson back in the lead, 4-2.
The score would stay that way until Reggie Crawford came up in the top of the ninth and hammered a ball over the right field fence, making it 4-3. The freshman's fourth home run of the year wasn’t enough, though, and UConn lost despite putting the tying run in scoring position in the top of the ninth.
Sunday vs. Coastal Carolina
UConn showed mental fortitude by rebounding on Saturday with a thrilling 5-4 victory in extra innings against the hosts of the tournament. The Huskies have a 4-5 record.
Tied after 7.1 innings, closer Caleb Wurster entered the game and put in a near-unbelievable shift: 4.2 innings of near-perfect ball, striking out 10 on a career-high 66 pitches. The only baserunner he allowed was a batter he hit in the bottom of the ninth.
Even for a pitcher who trained as a starter for a chunk of the offseason, it was a warrior’s performance.
Unbelievable!!! I’d run through a wall for this man! Psycho-path outing!!! https://t.co/gQr7R6tn0N— Christian Fedko (@Cfed377) March 8, 2021
UConn's offense was dominated by the long ball. Patrick Winkel opened the scoring in the first inning with a no-doubter to right-center, and Kevin Ferrer followed it up in the second with a home run to left field, his first in a UConn uniform. Not to be outdone, Winkel put another one into the bleachers in the third inning, and the Huskies were up 3-0.
Here's Kevin Ferrer's first home run of his UConn career pic.twitter.com/Lj1ghgnSe7— Lukefrom2011 (@Lukefrom2011) March 7, 2021
Bolstered by the early run support, Austin Peterson put in another strong starting performance in the Sunday spot in the rotation. He threw 100 pitches through 5.2 innings, striking out eight and allowing just one walk.
Nasty curveball from Austin Peterson freezes Nick Lucky for his fifth K of the afternoon pic.twitter.com/ZzX9ojmXJC— Lukefrom2011 (@Lukefrom2011) March 7, 2021
The Purdue transfer got in a little trouble in the fifth inning. Peterson hit the first batter, recovered to strike out the leadoff man in the order, but gave up a pop-up single in no-man's-land between second and center field that could have been caught. The next batter was Coastal's star man Parker Chavers, who uncorked a triple to the gap in left-center field scoring two, then was sent home with an RBI groundout.
Coastal would take the lead two innings later off Andrew Marrero, who relieved Peterson after the fifth. Speedy shortstop Eric Brown singled to lead off the inning, stole second, earned third off a Chavers single, then advanced to home on a wild pitch.
UConn wouldn’t go quietly, though, manufacturing a run the old-fashioned way in the ninth inning. Freshman Chris Brown, in his first start of the weekend, led off the inning by digging out an infield single. Andy Hague pinch ran for him, and reached home via a sacrifice fly from Erik Stock, who had one of his better games in a UConn uniform.
The Old Dominion transfer went 3-for-6 on the night, and helped the Huskies grab the extra-innings victory. Stock singled to kick off the top of the 12th, reached third on a single from Fedko, and was driven home by Reggie Crawford’s RBI groundout.
The Chanticleers will get their chance for revenge on Monday at noon, facing the Huskies for the final time this weekend.