UConn made another statement win against conference-foe Cincinnati despite losing their three and four hitters (Zac Susi and Isaac Feldstein). After losing a classic pitcher’s duel Friday 1-0, the Huskies clawed back to win Saturday 7-6 and Sunday 8-5.
UConn (22-12-1, 7-5 AAC) leapfrogged Cincinnati (19-19, 8-7 AAC) to take possession of fourth place in the American.
Sophomore ace Mason Feole was electric on the bump Friday night. His lone mistake came in the fourth inning as Manny Rodriguez blasted a solo homer off the lefty and that is all that Cincy’s JT Perez would need. Perez shut down the Huskies, which was UConn’s first game of the season going scoreless.
Feole’s 14 strikeouts was a career-high, but head coach Jim Penders was more impressed with his emotion.
“(Feole) is really fun to watch on Friday nights,” Penders said in an interview posted on the team’s website. “He sets the tone so beautifully and cares so deeply about his teammates. He’s a lot of fun to watch.”
While the team dropped the first game, it is easy to see how Feole set the tone for the whole weekend as they fought back to win the final two games.
To start off Saturday’s matchup, the Huskies jumped out to the early 3-0 lead in the top of the first, thanks to a solo blast from Troy Stefanski and a two-run double from the surging Chris Winkel.
The bottom of the first was not kind to freshman Colby Dunlop as he surrendered four runs in his lone inning of work. The righty walked the bases loaded before A.J. Bumpass singled in two runs. The very next batter Cole Murphy doubled in two more runs to cap off the four-run inning.
UConn answered right back to tie the game after John Toppa’s sacrifice fly brought in Michael Woodworth.
With the score tied at six in the ninth inning, Conor Moriarty worked a 10-pitch walk to leadoff the inning. He would eventually come around to score the go-ahead run on a wild pitch.
“(Moriarty) has been going in there and he’s been working on his swing and that ninth inning he was fouling pitches off and fighting,” Penders said. “That looked like the vintage Conor Moriarty.”
Sophomore Jacob Wallace earned his first career win after pitching two scoreless innings. Relievers CJ Dandeneau and Dan Rajkowski each tossed two scoreless innings.
With the series on the line during Sunday’s rubber game, the Huskies were able to score three runs in five innings off the Bearcats starter Cam Alldred. Stefanski continued his hot streak, going 3-6 with two doubles and a pair of RBIs.
Moriarty had a key two-out, two-strike RBI double to give the Huskies a 5-3 lead in the seventh inning. Christian Fedko added to that lead with an RBI single that brought home two runners.
Cincinnati did not give up and they would cut the lead to 7-5 in the bottom of the eighth inning after Treg Haberkorn knocked in a run with a single.
Woodworth added an insurance run after he launched his first-career home run for the Huskies.
Wallace came into the game and shut the door. He earned his first career save as the Huskies solidified the series win.
As for the mounting injuries, starting pitcher Chase Gardner did not play for the Huskies after he was hit in the elbow with a line drive against Wichita St. Susi was knocked out of Friday’s game after he was struck in the pinky when he interfered with the batter. Penders said the X-ray came back negative. UConn’s home run leader Isaac Feldstein was taken out of Saturday’s game after he collided with the outfield wall.
In his 15th year of coaching UConn, Penders said this series win ranks up their among some of the best.
“I haven’t been as proud of our team in a long time,” Penders said. “They battled, our guys really fought. We don’t have our three and four hitters. We don’t have our one and three starters. We got contributions from everyone in the lineup today.”
Michael Logan is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.