Coming off a four-game losing streak, the UConn Huskies baseball team probably would’ve preferred to have a cleaner and more convincing win over their in-state rival, the Quinnipiac Bobcats. Nevertheless, the Huskies earned a gritty win, and did so in style, as redshirt freshman Jack Lambrecht hit a walk-off RBI double for a 4-3 victory, ending the brutal losing streak.
“It was big [to stop the losing streak],” UConn head coach Jim Penders said. “It was just a tension-filled dugout, a tension-filled weekend. So many guys were pressing. It was very difficult for me to watch from third base. They got to let the game come to them.”
Sophomore pitcher Ronnie Rossomando started on the mound for UConn for the fourth consecutive midweek game, and heput in a good performance. The right-hander went six innings and struck out a career-high seven batters, while allowing seven hits and three earned runs. Importantly, Rossomando didn’t allow a single walk on the afternoon, something the Huskies’ staff has struggled with as of late.
“I had a pretty good start last week so I wanted to build off the same things,” Rossomando said. “Eliminate walks, throw first-pitch strikes and my secondary stuff was probably the best it’s been. A lot of times, I want to get ahead with a fastball and they pounded it into the ground, which is great.”
After allowing a run in the first inning, UConn took the lead in the second on the back of an Isaac Feldstein two-run blast to left field, despite a strong wind that tried to keep the ball in the park. In the next inning, outfielder Troy Stefanski brought home a third run for the Huskies on an RBI groundout to extend the lead to 3-1. That lead would not last long, however, as the Bobcats scored two runs on a blooper to left centerfield that carried with the wind.
The right-handed Sam Nepiarsky would come in to relieve Rossomando in the seventh inning, and he delivered big-time. The redshirt junior pitched three scoreless innings to finish the game and allowed just one hit. Nepiarsky got himself into a bit of a jam in the eighth inning after allowing a leadoff double, but a fantastic defensive stop by Willy Yahn with runners on the corners and one out preserved the tie.
John Toppa was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the ninth and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Feldstein. After a walk and a fly out that held Toppa at second base, Lambrecht stepped up to the plate and made the most of his moment to win the game for the Huskies.
“I’m really happy for Jack Lambrecht. He got a little redemption today, he had a tough weekend in the field but he rose to the occasion when it presented itself today,” Penders said.
The win advanced the Huskies to 20-14 on the year (6-3 the American) and 4-1 in limited home games so far. Most importantly, defeating the Bobcats helps shake the losing streak off UConn’s back as they look to win another game tomorrow afternoon at home against the UMass Minutemen, a rival New England state school.
“Coach [Mike] Stone and I go a long way back,” Penders said. “I played against him when he was coaching at UMass and this will be his last trip to Storrs. He’s retiring, I’ve got an awful lot of respect for him and the job that he did at UMass and the job that he continues to do at UMass. Looking forward to seeing him. I’m never looking forward to seeing his teams because they’re always going to be tough no matter what their record is. I’m not looking forward to seeing the Minutemen but I’m looking forward to seeing him one last time in Storrs. They’ll certainly give us their best punch so we got to be ready tomorrow and hopefully play a little bit looser.”
Tomorrow’s game will be played at J.O. Christian Field at 3 p.m. with P.J. Poulin expected to get the start for UConn.