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UConn baseball sweeps St. John’s

The Huskies ran rampant in their latest weekend series.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

There’s sweeping a weekend series, something that UConn has done twice this season, and once in conference play since the Huskies joined the Big East, and then there’s what they accomplished over the weekend against St. John’s: Total domination.

St. John’s didn’t win a game, never led in a game, and save for a late-inning flurry on Friday, never had a runner reach third base in UConn’s sweep of the Red Storm this weekend. The Huskies outscored their opponents 35-7 and outhit them 37-17 in the sweep.

It was as close to a perfect weekend as head coach Jim Penders might ever admit.

“I didn’t have any real complaints, to be perfectly honest,” Penders said. “I thought it was as complete of a series as we’ve played in a long time, in all facets.”

Here’s how it went down:

Friday: UConn 12, St. John’s 7

UConn baseball survived a late-inning comeback by St. John’s in the opening game of the series to start the weekend off on the right foot.

UConn hopped out to a big early lead with a six-run first inning and was able to fend off the Red Storm’s best attempts to win 12-7.

The Huskies have made a habit of putting up crooked numbers in the early innings, and Friday was no different, batting around in the bottom of the first. Bryan Padilla walked as the second batter of the game, and Erik Stock drove him in with an RBI double. Ben Huber kept the conveyor belt going with an RBI single, then catcher Matt Donlan put the exclamation point on the inning with a home run.

The big-swinging catcher led the Huskies offensively, with a home run and a pair of RBI doubles.

Austin Peterson picked up his sixth win of the season (6-0) with his six innings of work that featured just five hits, one run, zero walks, and six strikeouts.

UConn added one in the third and two in the fifth, but the St. John’s comeback started in earnest in the seventh inning. Hector Alejandro had control issues, responsible for five of seven runs scored by the visiting side. Brendan O’Donnell and Brady Afthim were able to right the ship for UConn, combining to put in 1 2/3 scoreless innings to halt the Red Storm’s momentum.

Saturday: UConn 13, St. John’s 0

After a relatively tight opening game of the series, UConn’s Saturday starter Pat Gallagher made sure that the second game of the series would not have the same late comeback with a complete-game shutout en route to a 13-0 win for the Huskies.

Gallagher tossed 108 pitches in the nine-inning effort, letting up just four hits and one walk, striking out seven, and no Red Storm baserunner was able to hit third under his watch. It was the first UConn nine-inning complete-game shutout since Tim Cate in 2017 against ECU.

UConn scored early and often, scoring in six of eight innings to support their starting pitcher. Eight of nine starters recorded hits in the game, with Erik Stock, the Huskies’ star center fielder, carrying a heavy load. The redshirt junior went 4-for-4 with an in inside the park home run, a double, and three RBI.

Korey Morton continued his red hot hitting streak in style with four hits in five at-bats, and right fielder Casey Dana raised his average to .311 with a 3-for-4 performance with an RBI double.

Sunday: UConn 10, St. John’s 0

UConn baseball’s run of dominance in the series continued on Sunday, with another shutout win to close out St. John’s in the final game of the series.

Enzo Stefanoni delivered the best performance of his UConn career so far, with seven scoreless innings, allowing just three walks and a single hit. Erik Stock did his part on the offensive side of the ball, hitting a grand slam and driving in five runs in the game.

Korey Morton went 3-for-4 with two RBI and Ben Huber went 2-for-3 with a double and three runs scored, which carried UConn’s offense for the day.

“He’s the guy that we just couldn’t keep [Morton] out of the lineup any longer,” Penders said. “He’s a weapon with his speed.”

UConn did most of their damage in the early innings; they were up 8-0 before the end of the third. Who else but Stock got the scoring started in the first inning, with an RBI groundout to score T.C. Simmons, who reached first on a walk and advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches. Free passes were the theme of the game for the St. John’s pitching staff, with seven walks, seven wild pitches, and a hit batter on the afternoon.

What’s Next

UConn heads to its home away from home on Tuesday: Dunkin Donuts Park, to take on Marist. Freshman Ian Cooke is expected to take the bump, with his 4-0 record and 1.46 ERA. The game is scheduled to begin at 6:05 p.m.