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No. 13 UConn baseball sweeps doubleheader vs. Villanova

The Huskies are in good shape no matter what Mother Nature throws at them on Sunday.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

No. 13 UConn baseball has been dodging raindrops all weekend in Philadelphia, but no matter what the weather holds for the rest of the series, the Huskies will come away with the series win, sweeping the doubleheader against Villanova.

The Huskies won the opener 7-3, then followed it up half an hour later with an even more impressive 9-1 victory over the Wildcats.

Here’s the lowdown on UConn’s successful Saturday at Plymouth Meeting:

Game 1:

After going down 2-0 after one inning, UConn baseball rallied from their early deficit to score five runs from the second to the fourth innings and extend that to a 7-3 victory to open the series.

Andrew Sears got off to a rocky start in his opening stint, giving up a single and a two-run homer in the bottom of the first, but then settled down to pitch 4 13 innings and strike out five Wildcats, surrendering just two more hits and no runs the rest of the way. However, he did have control issues, with three walks and a hit batsman.

Behind him, UConn’s offense picked up the starting pitcher immediately. The bottom half of the lineup crowded the basepaths in the second inning to get on the scoreboard. No. 5 hitter Luke Broadhurst drew a walk, Bryan Padilla singled and first baseman Maddix Dalena walked to load the bases for Korey Morton, whose two-RBI single tied the game up.

The Huskies came back again in the third inning, getting a pair of runners into scoring position. Jake Studley scored on a heads-up baserunning move, while Broadhurst reached on another walk, his second of three in the game, and scored on a sacrifice fly from Padilla to make it 4-2 Huskies.

David Smith worked a one-out walk in the fourth and scored on a Dominic Freeberger single. Studley was hit by a pitch and Broadhurst walked to load the bases with two down, but the road side was unable to add to its lead.

Right-hander Thomas Ellisen relieved Sears, and was steady as the Husky bats did work behind him, throwing three innings and allowing just a single earned run.

Game 2:

UConn wasted no time picking up right where it left off in the second half of the twin bill, riding a stellar pitching performance alongside another solid offensive effort to earn the 9-1 win.

Starting pitcher Stephen Quigley locked it down for the Huskies for the majority of the game, throwing 7 23 shutout innings, the highest tally for any UConn pitcher so far this year, and striking out a season-high 10 batters.

UConn scored nine unanswered runs in the first eight innings off 10 hits. The only blemish in for the Huskies didn’t come until the bottom of the ninth, when a solo home run from Villanova shortstop Craig Larsen ended the shutout.

Five UConn batters earned multi-hit performances, including freshman Maddix Dalena, who continued to deputize at first base in place of Ben Huber, who remains out with plantar fasciitis. The Montoursville, Pennsylvania native had a career day at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI, a season-high for the youngster.

The Huskies scored twice in the first inning off back-to-back RBI doubles from Dominic Freeberger and Jake Studley in the first inning. They would follow up with two more in the third with a home run from Morton and tacked on three more in the eighth inning with Dalena’s dinger.

UConn and Villanova will attempt to finish out the series on Sunday, with the weather forecast still unsettled for the rest of the weekend. First pitch is scheduled for 12 p.m.