The UConn baseball team improved to 20-16 with a 4-2 win over UMass Lowell on Wednesday night in Lowell, Mass. The Huskies scored three times in the fifth inning to grab a lead they would not relinquish, bouncing back from a tough loss to UMass on Tuesday.
UConn head coach Jim Penders started pitcher Jack Riley on the mound as the team continues to search for a second midweek starter. Riley came out of the bullpen last Wednesday against Bryant to give the Huskies 2.2 solid innings of relief in a 6-3 win.
The first three innings of the game were uneventful. After the Huskies went down in order in the top of the first inning against UMass-Lowell starter Kevin Veilleux, Riley walked the leadoff batter in the bottom of the frame. Riley quickly erased the base runner with a double play.
The River Hawks put two runners on base to begin the home half of the second inning, but Riley induced another double play before striking out Zack Tower to escape the frame. Neither team was able to generate any offense in the third.
UMass Lowell got on the scoreboard first in the bottom of the fourth inning. Chris Sharpe opened the inning with a single to right before stealing second base. Riley struck out the next two batters, but Russ Olive singled home Sharpe with two outs to give the River Hawks a 1-0 lead.
UConn answered right back in the top of the fifth inning. Tyler Gnesda singled to lead off before advancing to second base on a balk. John Toppa singled to score Gnesda, and moved to second on the throw. Toppa later scored on an error by UMass Lowell center fielder Ian Strom to give the Huskies a 2-1 lead.
UConn brought home another unearned run in the fifth after Jack Sundberg reached base on an error. Bobby Melley singled Sundberg home to put the Huskies up 3-1.
Riley pitched through the fifth inning before being replaced by C.J. Dandeneau to start the sixth. Riley finished with 5.0 innings pitched, allowing one earned run on four hits while striking out five batters.
Dandeneau worked through the sixth inning into the seventh while the Huskies’ bats failed to build upon their lead. After Dandeneau was replaced by P.J. Poulin with two outs and no one on, the River Hawks got a run back against Poulin on a single by Joe Consolmagno. Devin Over picked up a big strikeout for UConn to ended the seventh and preserve a 3-2 lead.
The Huskies ended up getting that run right back in the eighth inning on an RBI single by Gnesda brought home Melley. Reliever Patrick Ruotolo handled the River Hawks in the bottom of the frame to keep the Huskies’ advantage at 4-2 heading into the ninth inning.
After UConn went scoreless in the top of the ninth inning, Ruotolo came out to close the game in the bottom of the frame. He picked up the save and closed out a 4-2 UConn win with a clean 1-2-3 inning.
Melley led the Huskies with three hits, as only four UConn players recorded hits. UMass Lowell outhit UConn 8-7, but were doomed by four fielding errors.
UConn will be back in action this weekend with an American Athletic Conference series on the road against East Carolina.
Tyler Keating is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.