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UConn baseball captures series win at Hawai’i

The Huskies fought back from a Friday loss to achieve their second-straight series win.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

The 2023 version of UConn baseball can be described in a lot of ways, but “lack of fight” is certainly not one of them. After falling behind in the series 1-0 with a loss on Friday night, the Huskies rattled off three-straight wins on Saturday, Sunday and Monday to take the 3-1 series victory from their Spring Break adventure to Oahu.

The Huskies’ bats came alive in earnest over the four-game set. UConn outscored its opponents 44-28 over the course of the weekend, with a .383 team batting average and 17 extra-base hits.

Here’s how it went down:

Game 1

The series got off to an inauspicious start on Friday night with an 8-4 loss in the opening game.

Hawai’i opened up the scoring early, hopping on starting pitcher Ian Cooke with three runs off of seven hits in the first two innings. UConn’s offense began to pick its starter up immediately afterward. First baseman Ben Huber doubled to right field in the third inning, sending Dominic Freeberger to third, where he would score on a balk.

In the fourth, ECSU transfer Luke Broadhurst brought the Huskies within one with a towering shot to left field. But Hawai’i was able to score five runs from the fourth to the sixth innings, making it 8-2 and digging a deeper hole out of which UConn baseball needed to climb.

The Huskies tried furiously to mount a comeback multiple times, loading the bases in the seventh and leaving two runners on in the ninth, but fell short of the six needed to tie the game up.

Game 2

Saturday night is when the Huskies’ bats got going in earnest. A 20-hit onslaught led UConn baseball over Hawai’i, 13-8, in a game that featured three doubles, two triples and a home run from the Huskies. Every UConn batter recorded at least one hit in the game, and all but two of them recorded multi-hit efforts.

The home side took a 7-2 lead after four innings, but the Huskies were able to respond with a run in the fifth. Oswego State transfer Paul Tammaro, who was 3-for-5 with a double, drilled a home run in the sixth and UConn re-tied it with a two-run error in the seventh. Matt Garbowski, who also had three hits on Saturday, gave his team the lead with a single later in the frame.

The Huskies put it away in the ninth with a five-run, seven-hit inning where UConn batted around. Garbowski, Tammaro and David Smith led off the inning with three-straight hits, setting up a two-RBI single from Dominic Freeberger. Jake Studley, one of three Huskies with a trio of base knocks, followed up with a two-out triple to deep right center, scoring Smith, and Padilla finished the scoring off with an RBI single to make it 13-8.

UConn jumped ahead early in the game with a run in the first two innings, but Hawai’i went back ahead with seven combined runs in the third and fourth innings. The Huskies began chipping away at the lead in the fifth with a Ben Huber RBI single, in the sixth with a Tammaro home run and in the seventh, where a slopping defensive performance from the Rainbow Warriors plated three runs to make it 8-7 UConn.

To secure that lead, Zach Fogell and Devin Kirby both put in solid shifts from the bullpen. Fogell threw two no-hit innings, allowing just a single runner to reach base, and Kirby followed it up with a 3 1/3-inning effort, allowing just one hit and striking out four to earn the win on the mound.

Game 3

UConn’s bats kept the good times rolling on Sunday, outlasting Hawai’i 18-10 in a 25-hit thriller. The Huskies’ 18 runs in the game were a season-high, allowing them to out-gun the feisty Rainbow Warriors trying to recapture the series lead.

The road side was able to put some distance between itself and Hawai’i in the seventh inning, plating six runs and batting around to take the score from a nervy 10-7 to a more comfortable nine-run lead at 16-7.

The Huskies jumped ahead early in the game, scoring three runs in the first off a Jake Studley double and a two-RBI single from Luke Broadhurst. After Hawai’i evened the game back up in a sloppy bottom half, the Huskies came right back in the top of the second and tacked four more on via a Studley sacrifice fly and a three-run home run from Bryan Padilla to make it 7-3.

UConn’s starting shortstop was the engine of the offense all day, going 3-for-4 with three RBI, four runs scored and two walks to keep the conveyor belt of runs coming through.

The Huskies traded runs with their opponents in the middle innings. Paul Tammaro put one on the board via an RBI groundout, Hawai’i responded with a solo home run in the third and a three-run deep fly in the fourth, but UConn would keep it close with two runs on a single from Ryan Hyde in the fourth.

Entering the seventh inning with a 10-7 lead, UConn was able to tack on six more runs via five walks and three hits, with one run scored on a wild pitch. This allowed the Huskies to weather a three-run bottom of the seventh from Hawai’i and take the series lead heading into the decisive final game on Monday.

Game 4

UConn’s offense continued to deliver in the final game of the weekend and this time, the starting pitching chipped in too, helping the Huskies to a 9-2 win over Hawai’i and their second series victory of the year.

Starter Jack Sullivan returned from a nagging injury last weekend with a strong five innings on the mound, allowing just three hits, one earned run and four strikeouts to grab the win.

UConn trailed 2-1 heading into the third inning, where the Husky hitters put together a six-run frame that would secure the win.

They started off the scoring with a sacrifice fly in the top of the second to go up 1-0, but Hawai’i struck back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning.

UConn responded in the third with six runs, starting with a double from Ryan Daniels to lead off the inning, followed by a David Smith bunt single and a Dominic Freeberger RBI double that put the Huskies back on top, with Daniels having come across on a throwing error on a stolen base attempt with runners on the corners.

After the Rainbow Warriors changed pitchers, Ben Huber added another RBI double and Luke Broadhurst and Matt Garbowski followed up with a pair of RBI singles, while another run came through on a double play, to make it 7-2.

Huber would add on with another RBI double in the fourth and the Huskies would push the lead to 9-2, with another run scoring on an error in the seventh.

The Huskies have a short turnaround ahead of their next series, a four-game set against San Diego State, which starts on Thursday at 9 p.m.