No. 25 Huskies suffer first conference loss to Tulane

Freshman Conor Moriarty (20) makes contact with a pitch during the Huskies 4-0 victory over Memphis on April 9, 2017. (Tyler Benton/The Daily Campus)

The No. 25 UConn baseball team struggled on Thursday night, falling 8-3 against American Athletic Conference foe Tulane. The loss is the Huskies’ first in the American after a 6-0 start to conference play.

UConn (19-12, 6-1 the American) turned to sophomore star pitcher Tim Cate for the 7:30 start time. Cate (3-2) pitched five innings and allowed three earned runs, but the Huskies had a meltdown in the third inning leading to a seven-run outburst from the Green Wave.

In that third inning, Hunter Williams got Tulane (15-18, 5-2 the American) on the board with a two-RBI single. Then after two consecutive walks and an error by UConn third baseman Willy Yahn, Tulane was up 3-1 and had the bases loaded.

A two-out fly ball to shallow left field turned into a base-clearing double when UConn shortstop Anthony Prato appeared to lose the ball in the lights. Another RBI single would follow before UConn mercifully ended the seven-run frame. A 1-0 lead for the Huskies quickly turned into a large deficit.

Cate would go on to pitch two more innings, with the only other run coming on a mammoth homerun from Hunter Hope. Cate allowed eight hits on the night, including four extra-base hits. His struggles against Tulane continue, as the lefty gave up five earned runs in just 4.1 innings in an outing against the Green Wave last season.

Tulane starter Sam Bjorngjeld (5-2) pitched six innings of one-run ball in his second start of the season. Bjorngjeld worked around eight hits and two walks to hold the Huskies to one run.

The Huskies actually outhit Tulane on the night, 10-9, led by two hits each from Willy Yahn, John Toppa, Troy Stefanski and Jack Lambrecht. Lambrecht, a redshirt freshman, ripped a double to left field to plate two Huskies in the eighth. The other UConn run was scored on an RBI single from redshirt senior Keith Krueger.

UConn’s bullpen has been inconsistent at times this season, but Trevor Holmes, Jacob Wallace and Andrew Zapata combined for three scoreless innings and just one hit. The only thing Tulane could get going after Cate left the game was a potential sacrifice fly in the eighth, but Stefanski impressively threw the runner out from left field.

Perhaps the story of the game was that the Huskies left 11 men on base throughout the night compared to Tulane’s four. Opportunistic hitting and a few fortunate breaks in a big third inning led the Green Wave to a victory that was closer than the final score might suggest.

UConn will look to get back on track with two more games in New Orleans. Friday’s game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and the series finale will be Saturday at 2 p.m.


Josh Buser is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joshua.buser@uconn.edu.