Despite fighting back from multiple-run deficits twice in the latter half of the regional final on Sunday, UConn baseball ultimately fell 7-6 in extra innings to No. 15 Maryland, setting up a dramatic winner-takes-all game on Monday.
“I don’t know how anyone could come out of that game and not be a baseball fan,” head coach Jim Penders said. “Every pitch meant something, high drama, high stakes, and our young guys went out and fought.”
Maryland starter Nick Robinson held UConn’s lineup in check for the first five innings as the Huskies just couldn’t deliver with runners on base. They stranded five in the first five innings and went just 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
The Terrapins hopped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first inning, getting hard contact off UConn starter Enzo Stefanoni with a single, a double and a three-run home run.
But with their backs against the wall, after not hitting all game, the Huskies’ offense answered with a four-run sixth inning. Ben Huber and Casey Dana were issued free bases to start the inning, then Matt Donlan kicked off the scoring with a sacrifice fly. RBI singles from Korey Morton and T.C. Simmons tacked on two more and David Smith capped off the comeback with an RBI grounder.
Maryland jumped back on top with a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh inning but UConn fought back once again with an RBI triple from Smith, who scored from third on a passed ball to tie it up at 6.
The two teams fought tooth and nail into extra innings, with UConn reliever Devon Kirby giving a valiant performance with 4 1⁄3 innings and allowing just one earned run and striking out a season-high six batters. Maryland emptied its bullpen, using Friday starter Ryan Ramsey to help keep the Huskies at bay in extra innings.
UConn now heads into a showdown with Maryland on Monday night in a winner-take-all elimination game for a spot in the Super Regionals against either No. 2 Stanford or Texas State.