Baseball: Huskies hold on despite poor offensive showing

Freshman Ronnie Rossomando delivers a pitch during UConn's 2-1 victory over Fairfield at J.O. Christian Field on Tuesday April 12, 2016. Rossomando went 7.0 innings, allowing just 5 hits and 1 run. He struck out 4. (Tyler Benton/The Daily Campus)

The UConn baseball team took on the Fairfield Stags on a Tuesday that began with overcast conditions and rain before the sun came out at game time. The Huskies pulled off a narrow 2-1 victory through their solid pitching staff, despite some shaky offensive production.

I thought he had really good command of his fastball. I was really proud of his effort, he pitched very well and competed extremely well.
— Jim Penders on Ronnie Rossomando

Freshman right-hander Ronnie Rossomando started for UConn (15-15, 2-3 American) and he delivered from the moment he stepped on the mound. Senior Bobby Melley, who leads the team in RBIs with 29, helped out with a solo shot to right field in the bottom of the first inning. The team would only score one more run for the rest of the afternoon, in a performance that continues a string of poor offensive showings.

“Whenever you get off to a hot start and be aggressive and jump out on top, it’s always a good thing,” said Melley. “We just have got to do a better job in the middle innings. We have to keep the pedal down instead of laying back and keeping it in cruise control.”

Rossomando ensured the lead over Fairfield (12-17, 4-2 MAAC) stayed intact for the Huskies for the rest of the game. He got himself into a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the second inning, but remained calm and escaped the inning with a clutch strikeout and a double play.

“[Rossomando] was able to refocus really well today after a couple 2-0 count situations,” said Coach Jim Penders. “I thought he had really good command of his fastball. I was really proud of his effort, he pitched very well and competed extremely well.”

Senior outfielder Joe DeRoche-Duffin led off the bottom of the fourth with a line drive into the gap in right-center field and get himself into scoring position at second. Later in the inning, redshirt-junior catcher Alex LeFevre hit a sacrifice fly RBI to right field, bringing Duffin home to make the score 2-0 going into the fifth. The Huskies threatened to add insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth with two two-out hits, but couldn’t make anything of it.

Rossomando would continue to spin a gem into the sixth inning, but he eventually allowed a run following a wild pitch that put a runner in scoring position. He would finish his day by escaping another jam with a strikeout and a double play before bowing out after seven innings of fantastic work. The freshman earned his first win with five hits allowed, one earned run and three strikeouts.

Penders turned to his bullpen for the remainder of the game, using junior left-hander Doug Domnarski and freshman right-hander Randy Polonia for an out each. Domnarski, who quickly struck out the only batter he faced in the game, made his sixth straight appearance out of the bullpen for the Huskies. Junior right-handed pitcher Patrick Ruotolo then came in relief of Polonia, and closed out the game in a four-out performance to earn his first save of the season.

“It seems like we are in nothing but close games in the last week, and they [the bullpen] know they can’t make mistakes,” said Penders. “They know they can’t make mistakes because they know that our offense isn’t going to bail them out, and that has to change quickly, otherwise it is going to be a very difficult second half of the season. I can’t watch more baseball like what I saw today.”

The Huskies take on the Bryant University Bulldogs (20-6, 9-1 NEC) tomorrow at J.O. Christian Field at 3:00 p.m. in what should be an extremely tough matchup against a team that is looking to go deep in the NCAA tournament this year.

“Whatever hair I’ve got left, I’m going to pull the rest of it out, because it’s not enjoyable watching us play with incredible fear,” said Coach Penders. “I’m not used to seeing that from my teams, and that has to change. If we show up like that tomorrow, well, we will lose big tomorrow if we show up like that.”


Chris Hanna is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.hanna@uconn.edu.