Baseball: Huskies ride pitching to wins over CCSU, Hartford

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UConn and Hartford step back on the field for the double header on Friday Mar. 31. Pitcher Chase Gardner retired 14 batters in a row, leading to a Huskies victory, 1-0 (Jon Sammis/The Daily Campus)

Two games. Two wins. One allowed run.

UConn baseball received two spectacular performances from their starting pitchers to hold their opponents to just one combined run on the weekend. Mason Feole and the bullpen held Central Connecticut to just one earned run on Friday in a 6-1 victory before Chase Gardner one-upped him in a 1-0 win over Hartford on Saturday.

During the Huskies’ home opener on Thursday, starter Tim Cate allowed just two hits over 6.2 innings of work. Not to be outdone, Feole took the mound in front of home fans for the first time this season and unleashed one of the best games of his young collegiate career.

Feole worked every portion of the strike zone as he struck out a career-high 13 batters over seven scoreless innings. He hit his stride in the mid-innings, at one point retiring nine straight batters. Feole also struck out the side on two occasions. The Blue Devils managed to scrap together three hits.

The Huskies jumped ahead in the first inning after Anthony Prato singled to first, got a free trip to second after a balk by CCSU starter Brandon Fox and made it back to home after an errant throw sent the ball into left field. UConn added three more runs in the second inning after Fox walked two batters. Chris Winkel hit an RBI double and Mike Woodworth and John Toppa added RBI singles to push the lead to 4-0.

Zac Susi and Troy Stefanski collect RBI’s of their own in the fifth and seventh innings respectively to extend UConn’s lead to 6-0. The Blue Devils lone run on the day came in the eighth inning after Joe Simeone came in to relieve Feole. With the bases loaded, Mitch Guilmette was able to draw a walk to bring a run across home plate.

On Saturday, the Huskies had a rematch of their Thursday home opener against Hartford. However, the venue shifted to Dunkin’ Donuts Park on a crisp and clear Saturday afternoon.

Junior starter Chase Gardner struggled to keep men off the base paths early but was later able to hold the Hawks there, stranding five runners through three innings. Outfielder Isaac Feldstein contributed to the cause by throwing a runner out at the plate in the second inning.

Gardner went into overdrive after the third inning. He struck out seven and retired the last 14 consecutive batters he faced. The victory moved Gardner to 2-0 on the season.

John Toppa provided the only run the Huskies would need in the seventh inning. Christian Fedko and Chris Winkel both singled before Mike Woodworth was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Toppa hit a deep sacrifice fly to score pinch runner Conor Moriarty from third.

Closer P.J. Poulin was called on in the bottom of the eighth inning to get the Huskies out of a bases-loaded, two out jam. Poulin came back out for the ninth inning and three more outs to earn his eighth save of the season.

UConn returns home on Tuesday for a game against state rival Fairfield. First pitch between the Huskies and Stags is scheduled for 3 p.m. at J.O. Christian Field.


Bryan Lambert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at bryan.lambert@uconn.edu.
 

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