UConn baseball moved into a brand new stadium with lights just this year, but the specter of games suspended due to darkness remains on the road. The third game of their four-game series against Xavier was too wild for just Monday night in Cincinnati, as extra innings extended the game past sunset. They resumed play Tuesday morning and it ended with a 15-13 UConn win.
The late-game drama continued in the final game of the series after the Musketeers walked it off in the bottom of the ninth for a 6-5 win. The Huskies split the four-game series with Xavier and now sit 18-14 on the season, 4-2 in conference play.
Halfway through Monday’s game, nobody would have predicted that the Huskies would even be in the position to pick up a win in the first place. UConn was down 8-2 in the top of the eighth but put together a nine-run inning to take the lead for the first time that day.
Kyler Fedko and Kevin Ferrer reached to start the inning on a hit-by-pitch and a single respectively, then Reggie Crawford kicked off the scoring with a double down the left-field line, his first of two in the inning. Patrick Winkel and Erik Stock kept the conveyer belt going with a sacrifice fly and an RBI double, and the inning descended into a nightmare for Xavier when their second baseman misplayed a simple grounder, scoring two more.
Now down 9-7, the Huskies kept going. A Zach Bushling single and a wild pitch gave them the lead for the first time that night, and Crawford put a cap on the inning with another RBI double, making it 11-9.
Xavier wouldn’t go down easily. The underdogs clawed their way level in the bottom of the eighth on a fielders’ choice and an error, sending the game to extra innings tied at 11.
UConn and Xavier traded haymakers with the MLB-style, runner starting on second rule in effect in the extra innings. Bushling fired an RBI double down the right-field line in the 10th to put UConn ahead, but Xavier answered them back with a sacrifice fly. In the 11th, Crawford drove in the runner on second with an RBI single, and Xavier responded with the same.
The game was then called due to darkness, and it took over 12 hours for UConn to answer without reply. A towering two-run homer from Kyler Fedko put the Huskies in the lead for the final time.
In the final game of the series, UConn was on the wrong side of a walk-off win to end the weekend on a sour note, losing 6-5.
Usually after a four-game series, especially one with a game that spanned two days, you wouldn’t expect pitching to be on top, but that’s what happened to start this game. UConn scored in the 1st inning and then promptly shut up shop.
The score stayed at 1-0 until the fifth inning when Erik Stock sent a home run deep into the mid-afternoon sky. Patrick Gallagher was holding strong as the starting pitcher until the fifth inning rolled around, giving up a pair of home runs to put Xavier in the lead again.
UConn took until the eighth inning to put together a response, manufacturing runs with a fielders’ choice and a sacrifice fly, and added insurance in the top of the ninth with yet another late-game home run from Kyler Fedko, his second in two games.
It wasn’t enough to overcome a moment of magic from Xavier’s Alex Helmin, a transfer from Arizona State who hit a three-run home run to split the series.
UConn will open their next Big East series against Butler in three days’ time, hoping for better results as they push towards the postseason. Game one will take place at Elliot Ballpark on Friday, April 30 at 3 p.m.