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UConn baseball suffers 26-3 loss to Notre Dame in game two of NCAA Tournament

The Huskies take on Central Michigan at noon on Sunday with their season on the line.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn baseball couldn’t keep the momentum going Saturday evening after a convincing win over Michigan in their NCAA Tournament opener Friday night. Even as the home team against host Notre Dame, the Huskies couldn't get anything going as the Fighting Irish piled up runs early and often to win 26-3, handing UConn one of the program’s worst losses in recent memory.

After hitting two home runs in the Irish’s 10-0 win over Central Michigan Friday night, senior Nike Kavadas stayed hot with a grand slam in the top of the first off of UConn’s Ben Casparius to put ND up 5-0 before the Huskies even got to bat.

The Huskies managed to respond in the bottom half of the second with a run of their own after Reggie Crawford’s RBI single made it 5-1. But after that, things went off the rails for UConn as Notre Dame continued to do damage with the long ball.

Notre Dame’s Carter Putz hit a solo shot off Casparius in the third, and David Lamanna followed up with a two-run blast that same inning to get the Irish out to an 8-1 lead. UConn tacked on another run in the bottom half of the inning on an RBI double from Christian Fedko that scored Erik Stock.

Casparius would last just two more outs after pitching three full innings and finished allowing 11 earned runs on seven hits while striking out just four. Will Lucas relieved Casparius with one out left in the fourth, but walked in a run and surrendered three more off of a pair of singles as the Huskies finished the fourth inning down 12-2.

The Irish added on six unanswered runs before UConn responded after ND starter Will Mercer was pulled from the game after scattering eight hits over seven innings. With Dominic Cancelleri in for ND, Stock took him yard in the bottom of the eighth for UConn’s third and final run of the game.

Notre Dame would tack on eight more runs in their last at bats in ninth inning, with Huskies reliever Brendan O’Donnell on the hook for all of them. While UConn still managed 10 hits and struck out just five times, the hot bats of the Irish were simply too much to handle for Casparius and the Huskies’ bullpen as ND rolled to the 26-3 victory.

With the loss, UConn takes on Central Michigan in an elimination game at noon on Sunday for a chance to face off with Notre Dame again later that evening. Should the Huskies defeat the Chippewas and then the Irish, UConn and Notre Dame would square off Monday for the Regional Championship.

While the loss is one of the worst in program history and forces the Huskies to have to win three games in two days to keep their season afloat, there is still some optimism for UConn to get past CMU and have better luck against the Irish if they face off again Sunday.

Despite scoring seven less runs, the Huskies had just one less hit than in their win over Michigan and actually struck out just five times agains the Irish compared to 10 times Friday night.

On the pitching side, even with Casparius’ short outing, head coach Jim Penders used just three arms in the bullpen, one of which (Sam Favieri) threw just over 30 pitches. This means that relief ace Caleb Wurster should be good to go for a longer stretch if needed Sunday, and there are still plenty of arms in the pen available for a bullpen game Sunday night or Monday if the Huskies can force.

While the pitching wasn’t up to par Saturday night, the rotation and bullpen have been generally solid and should be able to keep the runs down to a point where UConn’s excellent offense gives them a chance to pull out some wins in slugfests.