No. 9 UConn baseball came out on top against Seton Hall in a wild series opener, pleasing a rowdy Friday night crowd with a 10-7 comeback victory.
Down five runs after two and a half innings, the Huskies refused to quit, scoring twice in the bottom of the third and putting up a six-spot in the bottom of the fourth to take the lead right back from their opponents from New Jersey.
The Pirates looked poised to run away with the game early on, putting up five runs in the top of the third inning. Starting pitcher Andrew Sears’ outing ended after 2 1⁄3 frames and he was responsible for all seven of the Seton Hall runs scored, including a three-run homer from big-hitting Staus Poprovsky.
Seton Hall drew first blood in the game, taking advantage of a wayward Sears to plate two in the first inning and five more in the third.
After recording a leadoff groundout, five straight hits meant three runs in and runners on second and third, which spelled the end of Sears’ outing. Michael Quigley entered and walked the two batters he faced before the hook came again and Garrett Coe entered with the bases loaded to stop the bleeding.
The Pirates added one on a fielder’s choice, but that would be it. Coe was able to put a pin in the potent Seton Hall offense with a masterful pitching performance, throwing 5 1⁄3 shutout, one-hit innings, striking out seven and walking just two.
UConn tried to keep pace with a run in the second as Luke Broadhurst and Maddix Dalena walked, and Ryan Hyde singled up the middle to bring the former across the plate. In the third, Jake Studley and Broadhurst each had an RBI single to put a dent in what had become a six-run deficit.
After getting a taste for runs in the second and third innings, UConn’s offense exploded in the fourth, plating six to take the 9-7 lead.
Dalena singled to start off the inning, filling in for the injured Ben Huber, and came around to score along with Ryan Daniels via a T.C. Simmons RBI double. Dominic Freeberger sent Simmons home with an RBI single of his own, and Bryan Padilla followed up with his own two-RBI base hit to round out the inning. All of the damage came with two outs, as Alex Nicolosi, who took the mound following Dalena’s leadoff single, struck out both Korey Morton and David Smith in the leadup to Simmons’ two-bagger.
UConn tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth via a Freeberger RBI single, his second hit of the day.
Zach Fogell entered the game in relief of Coe and earned the save, pitching 1 1⁄3 innings and striking out two.
UConn (33-11, 9-3 Big East) will look to build on Friday’s momentum on Saturday afternoon in the middle game of the series at 4:05 p.m.