After dropping the opening game of the series, UConn baseball rallied on Saturday and Sunday to win both games in dominant fashion, earning a series win and the Big East regular-season championship.
UConn has a three-game lead over second-place Creighton with three games left to play and owns the tiebreaker over the Blue Jays after their series sweep last weekend. This is UConn’s second straight regular-season conference title and third Big East regular-season crown overall.
Saturday: UConn 11, Xavier 3
After giving up a lot of home runs on Friday, the Huskies dished out some punishment of their own on Saturday, evening up the series with an 11-3 victory.
Catcher Matt Donlan hit a grand slam to center field to give UConn a 5-0 lead in the first inning, setting the tone for a Huskies’ beatdown as they sent all nine batters to the plate in the opening frame. Korey Morton sent in the first run with a bases-loaded walk and Donlan’s home run blew it open. Shortstop Bryan Padilla followed it up with a solo shot, his fifth of the year.
David Smith added a solo shot in the second inning and an Erik Stock sacrifice fly in made it eight runs through four innings. UConn added some insurance runs late in the game thanks to a sacrifice fly from Dana in the seventh and an RBI single in the eighth.
Pat Gallagher delivered a quality start with 6.0 innings of one-run ball, striking out seven and walking just one. Big left-hander Garrett Coe finished out the game with 3.0 innings, pounding the strike zone.
Sunday: UConn 17, Xavier 6
UConn kept the hot bats going in the final game of the series, blasting its way to a series win in front of a packed Elliot Ballpark in the last home game of the regular season.
The Huskies scored five runs in the first inning and six in the third. Every Husky in the lineup recorded a hit, and nine of them had multiple hits.
UConn staged a two-out rally in the first inning to score those five runs, like they have so often this season. The Huskies sent 11 batters to the plate in the third to tack on even more.
Matt Donlan started off the inning with a solo home run (his ninth of the year), and Padilla followed it up with an RBI single. T.C. Simmons and Davis Smith kept the conveyor belt going with back-to-back RBI singles, and a bases-loaded walk and hit by pitch finished up the carnage.
David Smith added to the lead with an RBI single in the third and a home run in the fifth for his fourth-straight multi-hit game. Erik Stock gave the Huskies some additional distance in the sixth with a bases-clearing double.
A four-run fifth inning got Xavier to within five, but Ian Cooke entered the game as a stabilizing presence and fired 3 1⁄3 innings of one-hit ball, striking out four and allowing just two baserunners. Justin Willis entered in the ninth and finished the game off with nine pitches.
Having already clinched the Big East regular-season title, UConn heads to the nation’s capital for the final series of the year, against Georgetown. The three-game series kicks off on Thursday, May 19 after a quick pit stop in Rhode Island to take on Bryant.