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No. 10 UConn baseball drops series finale to Butler, 11-8

Self-inflicted wounds prevented the Huskies from taking a much-needed series sweep.

Butler’s Jake DeFries #5 slides in ahead of UConn’s catcher Matt Garbowski’s tag to score the eventual game-winning run in the top of the 9th inning.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

No. 10 UConn survived some close calls this weekend against the visiting Butler Bulldogs, as the Huskies grabbed a pair of walk-offs to claim the series win. But on Sunday UConn committed two errors in the eighth and ninth, leading to four unearned runs and an 11-8 defeat.

Ian Cooke took the mound for UConn and faced 12 batters over just 1 23 innings. Four got on base with a hit and three more worked a walk, leading to four earned runs.

The Bulldogs struck for a pair in the first, one of which came on a Cooke wild pitch, but the home side grabbed two of its own in the bottom half to draw even. Ryan Daniels worked a leadoff walk and took the extra base on Dominic Freeberger’s single up the middle, putting him on third. He scored on a wild pitch that also put Freeberger in scoring position, coming across on a Ben Huber single.

The game was tied again two innings later at 4-4. Freeberger and Huber brought in a run on a single and a double, respectively. UConn could have had the lead, but Daniels was cut down at the plate on Huber’s two-bagger.

Butler grabbed a trio of runs in the fourth on a combination of Devin Kirby and Brady Afthim.

Like the weekend’s previous games, UConn mounted a response. Huber beat out the back end of a double play, letting Daniels, who was hit by a pitch, cross the plate, while Padilla worked a bases-loaded walk with two down to get Huber home. Matt Garbowski nearly had the inning’s first hit, but a line drive was snared by first baseman Ryan O’Holleran to end the threat with the Huskies down one.

The next inning, Jake Studley drove in a pair with a single to give his team the lead for the first time on the day. After Will Nowak worked around a leadoff walk in the sixth and he, combined with Jack Sullivan and Zach Fogell, worked around traffic in the seventh, trouble struck in the eighth.

Back-to-back leadoff singles by Xavier Carter and Scott Jones and a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third. Freeberger couldn’t handle the grounder at third from Garrett Gray, letting Carter tie the game at 8-8. That chased Fogell in favor of Justin Willis, who prevented any further damage.

UConn wasn’t so lucky in the ninth. Jake DeFries singled and on a comebacker, Willis missed Padilla, who was covering second base, throwing the ball into center field. DeFries would move to third and come across on a sacrifice fly, which would cause Jim Penders to go get his closer for Freeberger. He struck out the first batter he faced, but two straight hits put Butler up 11-8 with just three outs to make the comeback. The Huskies went down in order and dropped the final game.

UConn (38-12, 13-4 Big East) and Rhode Island canceled their midweek game on Tuesday, so next up the Huskies travel to Omaha to face off against Creighton for a three-game set to close the regular season. First pitch on Friday. is at 7 p.m. on FS1.