Baseball: Offensive outburst powers UConn to weekend sweep in Tennessee

Centerfielder Jack Sundberg attempts to lay down a bunt during a game against Memphis last season. Sundberg is hitting .400 through five games for the Huskies. (File Photo)

The UConn baseball team scored 56 runs on their way to a three-game sweep at the 2016 Governors Challenge at Raymond C. Hand Park in Tennessee this past weekend. The Huskies routed Missouri State, Austin Peay and Alcorn State on a neutral field to improve to 4-2 in the 2016 season.

On Friday afternoon, the Huskies dominated No. 12 Missouri State 12-4 behind a prolific offensive showing and a strong effort from starting pitcher Anthony Kay. The win was UConn’s first over a ranked team since they defeated No. 15 UCF on Apr. 11, 2015.

Kay picked up his first win of the season with six innings of work, allowing three runs (zero earned) on three hits. He also recorded 10 strikeouts to set a new career-high.

The UConn offense roughed up Missouri State starter Jordan Knutson early and often on Friday. The Huskies scored twice in the first inning on a RBI single from Tyler Gnesda, and put up a five spot in the third inning to chase Knutson. Willy Yahn, Aaron Hill, John Toppa and Jack Sundberg batted in runs as the Huskies sent 10 men to the plate in the third.

Missouri State cut the lead to 7-3 in the sixth inning with a three-run home run, and inched even closer with a run in the seventh, but the Huskies weren’t done mashing. Bobby Melley hit a two-run double in the bottom of the eighth, and Gnesda capped off a great day with a three-run home run of his own.

The UConn offense was even more explosive on Saturday evening, as they racked up 21 hits on their way to a 19-4 victory over Austin Peay. It was the most runs the Huskies had scored since a 25-5 win over CCSU in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

Gnesda led the effort with four hits and four RBIs, including another three-run home run. Yahn and Bryan Daniello contributed with four and three hits, respectively. Joe DeRoche-Duffin and Connor Buckley also smashed home runs for the Huskies.

UConn scored in eight of the nine innings they batted in, with multiple runs crossing the plate in four different innings. The Huskies put up seven runs in the seventh to go up by 13 runs and blow the game wide open.

Starter Wills Montgomerie picked up the win for UConn, allowing two earned runs on seven hits over six innings of starting work. Montgomerie also set a new career-high by recording ten strikeouts. Dan Rajkowski, P.J. Poulin and CJ Dandeneau finished the game for the Huskies, pitching 1.0 inning each.

The Huskies’ bats peaked even higher in the weekend capper on Sunday afternoon, matching that 2010 win over CCSU with a 25-3 drubbing of Alcorn State. UConn racked up 23 hits in the victory, with four batters reaching the three-hit mark.

UConn jumped out to a 15-3 advantage Sunday after just three innings, as they put up seven runs in the second inning and six runs in the third. The Huskies also had six runs cross the plate in the sixth inning.

Yahn went 3-for-6 with four runs scored as the leadoff hitter, while Daniello added three hits and four runs of his own. DeRoche-Duffin and Melley turned in four and three RBIs, respectively, while freshman Zac Susi contributed three hits. Troy Stefanski hit his first career home run for UConn in the third inning.

Starter Andrew Zapata picked up his first win on the mound, going 5.0 innings and allowing three runs (one earned) on eight hits. Alcorn State starter Daniel Belmont took the loss after allowing 13 runs (nine earned) on 11 hits over 2.0 innings of work.

The Huskies will look to extend their four-game winning streak next weekend when they head to Liberty for a three game set.


Tyler Keating is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering baseball. He can be reached via email at tyler.keating@uconn.edu.