UConn baseball’s NCAA tournament hopes were dashed on Sunday afternoon at the hands of Central Michigan. The Chippewas handed them a 14-9 loss in a game filled with missed opportunities, small-ball mastery, and lots of dingers.
UConn got the scoring started in the second inning. Chris Brown hit a two-run homer and Erik Stock followed it up with a solo shot of his own to quickly put the Huskies up 3-0.
Central Michigan struck right back, though, taking advantage of a UConn defense that was off its game. The Chips hit a leadoff home run and followed it up with a lot of small ball to make it 5-3.
In the top of the fourth UConn filled the bases after singles from Christian Fedko, Reggie Crawford, and Chris Brown. But a double play from Zach Bushling ended the threat, and the Chips took advantage in the next frame, chasing Huskies’ starter Pat Gallagher from the game with a single, double and back-to-back home runs to extend their lead to 9-3.
UConn had some fight left in them, however, scoring two in the fifth. Kyler Fedko and Chris Winkel’s back-to-back hits set up Stock for his second RBI opportunity of the game and he delivered with a sacrifice fly. Christian Fedko followed it up with an RBI single.
In the seventh, Stock and Fedko lifted the Huskies again with a pair of singles, and they were sent home with speed by a home run from Reggie Crawford that made it 9-8.
But the Huskies’ comeback was quickly throttled by Central Michigan in the bottom of the seventh, with a masterful display of small ball. Two bloop singles, two bunt singles, a sacrifice bunt, a home run, and a double added five runs for the Chips, and the UConn defense was seemingly helpless to stem the onslaught of bunts as the score became 14-8.
Crawford hit another home run, this time going opposite field, powering a pitch that was a foot off the plate into left field out of pure spite. But UConn didn’t get much else going in the final innings.
Central Michigan will go on to face Notre Dame at 6 p.m. and will have to beat them twice in order to advance to the Super Regionals. UConn’s season ends with an overall record of 34-19. The Huskies have exited the NCAA tournament at the regional stage the past three times they’ve been part of it.