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No. 11 UConn baseball claims Big East regular-season crown after win over Creighton

The Huskies won two games in a row to clinch their third consecutive Big East regular season title.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn baseball, which had clinched the Big East regular season crown just minutes before with a Xavier loss, put an exclamation point on the regular season with a 10-0 win over Creighton on Saturday, in a game that went eight innings due to the mercy rule.

It was a true bullpen day for the Huskies, as four pitchers took the mound. Devin Kirby earned the win with 2 13 frames and was the only guy to give up a hit. Brady Afthim pitched two innings and was the only one to not permit a baserunner.

Ian Cooke, who had scuffled for most of the season, pitched just two innings before leaving with an apparent arm injury, but made the most of it, as he didn’t have too much trouble with the Bluejays.

All but one Husky in the lineup notched a base hit, while five had multiple hits, even without the benefit of a ninth inning. Matt Garbowski led the way going 3-for-4 with four RBI.

The Huskies had runners on second and third with two out in the second, but weren’t able to strike until the third, scoring at least one run in each remaining inning. Paul Tammaro got credit for the game-winning RBI, driving in Bryan Padilla, who led the frame off with a single up the middle. Ben Huber then hit a two-run home run to put his team up 3-0.

Garbwoski had an RBI single in the fourth and drove home two more in the following inning, with Jake Studley adding on with a base hit of his own, as well, to make it 7-0 by the end of the fifth.

Dominic Freeberger plated Smith in the sixth on a groundout after he walked to lead off the frame. Smith stole his 35th base of the season to get into scoring position and moved to third on another productive out. Garbowski got his fourth and final RBI on another single in the seventh and Freeberger capped it off with another single in the eighth.

UConn did it by moving from station to station and taking what Creighton pitching gave them. The road team cranked out 14 hits, but just two went for extra bases. The Huskies also worked just two walks but were hit by two pitches.

As for Creighton, Cooke, Kirby, Thomas Ellison, and Afthim didn’t let the hosts get anything done at the plate. The hosts didn’t get in the hit column until the third, the inning in which two of their three base hits were recorded, and a runner didn’t reach third safely until the seventh.

UConn (40-13, 15-5) will next head to the Big East Tournament at Prasco Park in Mason, Ohio. The No. 1 Huskies will be joined by 2-seed Xavier, 3-seed Seton Hall, and 4-seed Georgetown in a double-elimination format. Jim Penders’ squad will take on the Hoyas in the first round at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday.