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UConn rallies in late innings to take Big East opener vs. St. John’s

The Huskies scored seven runs in the late innings to start out conference play on the right foot.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn baseball started Big East conference play with panache on Thursday afternoon, rallying from three runs down to take Game 1 of its series against St. John’s, 7-5.

The Huskies were trailing 3-0 heading into the seventh inning when the offense put up a five-spot and added two more in the ninth to cement their victory.

UConn started out the game unable to solve St. John’s ace Xavier Kolhosser, who kept the Huskies to three hits and one walk in six shutout innings of work.

Meanwhile, Huskies’ starter Ian Cooke had just one major blemish on his scorecard: In the third inning, the right-hander let up a leadoff single, hit a batter, and hung a fastball over the middle of the plate for Red Sorm home run leader Tate Ballestero to the opposite field, making it 3-0.

From there, the groundwork for UConn’s comeback was laid on the mound. Cooke rebounded to throw a scoreless fourth inning, then Michael Quigley and Zach Fogell emerged from the bullpen to throw a combined three innings, allowing one earned run and striking out five.

The Huskies’ big comeback started, coincidentally, when Kolhosser left the mound. UConn hopped on reliever Nick Cirelli from the first batter — Korey Morton struck out swinging, but ended up reaching first on a wild pitch and throwing error, then used his speed to steal second. Ryan Daniels, pinch-hitting for the catcher Ryan Hyde, then knocked Morton home with an RBI single.

Matt Garbowski, David Smith and Ben Huber both followed with RBI singles of their own, then Smith reached home on a dirt ball read to make it 5-3.

Huber added a few insurance runs in the top of the ninth with a two-run homer, after St. John’s cut into the lead to make it 5-4.

Justin Willis was then able to successfully close it out in the ninth to earn the save, shutting down the remaining St. John’s batters after allowing a solo homer to open the frame.

UConn finishes up its series against St. John’s in a doubleheader on Saturday, with the first game starting at 1 p.m.