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UConn baseball splits doubleheader to win series vs. St. John’s

The Huskies start conference play on the right foot.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn baseball has had a good start to Big East play, as it split a doubleheader against St. John’s on Saturday to earn the series win.

The Huskies won the first game of the day 8-3, but dropped the second half of the twin bill 9-7 to round out the Easter Weekend set. Here’s how it all went down:

Game 1: UConn 8, St. John’s 3

UConn clinched the series win in the opener, with an 8-3 victory in the first game of the doubleheader.

The Huskies were buoyed by a solid pitching performance by starter Andrew Sears, who struck out eight batters in 5 13 innings of work, allowing just three runs, two hits and one walk.

UConn’s offense was led by Jake Studley and Bryan Padilla, who each had three hits and two RBI in the contest. Padilla reached base all four times he stepped to the plate.

The Huskies crowded the basepaths in the early innings, scoring in the second via a Paul Tammaro groundout and in the third on a sacrifice fly from Dominic Freeberger.

St. John’s catcher Austin Machado capitalized on Sears’ only real blemish in the fourth inning, taking advantage of a 3-1 count and jacking a two-run homer to tie it up.

The two teams traded runs in the fifth and sixth innings: Korey Morton hit his sixth home run of the year to make it 3-2, then St. John’s scored via an RBI single after chasing Sears in the sixth.

It was close through much of the contest, but UConn’s offense put the screws on in the later innings. Studley drove in a run with a double laced to the opposite field, then struck again in the top of the ninth with an RBI single, followed by a sacrifice fly from Luke Broadhurst and a two-RBI single from Padilla to make it a four-run inning.

As the offense was heating up, their bullpen locked down the Johnnies. Devin Kirby entered in relief of Sears and went 1 23 shutout innings, followed by Zach Fogell, who allowed two hits in the eighth, but stranded the tying run on third. Brady Afthim closed it out with a seven-pitch perfect inning.

Game 2: St. John’s 9, UConn 7

UConn and St. John’s both emptied the tank in the second half of the doubleheader, with the Huskies failing to earn the sweep in a 9-7 loss.

Both teams’ lineups were humming, with a combined 26 hits, eight doubles and three home runs in the contest.

The St. John’s lineup was too much for starter Patrick Sullivan, who was chased from the game after three innings pitched, giving up four hits, four runs and two walks.

Studley continued his hot day at the plate, with an RBI double in the first and a sacrifice fly in the third to put the Huskies up 2-0, and would finish the game 3-for-4 at the plate with four RBI. After St. John’s took the lead to make it 4-2, Studley responded with a two-run homer in the fifth inning to make it 4-4.

St. John’s retook the lead in the fifth inning to make it 6-4, but UConn grabbed what they thought would be a winning blow in the sixth with back-to-back home runs from Ben Huber and Freeberger to push the score to 7-6.

Undeterred, St. John’s roared back with runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to push the score to 9-7, clawing one game away from the Huskies in the Big East opening weekend.

UConn is back in action on Monday afternoon with a game against CCSU at 4:05 p.m. in Dunkin’ Park in Hartford.