Any time you bring in Jake Wallace to close out a game with a one-run lead, you feel like you’ve got a good chance. That’s why UConn turned to him with no outs and a man on second in the bottom of the seventh inning of their rubber match against Sam Houston State, up 4-3.
Wallace allowed just one run after loading the bases with no outs, and the Huskies were able to tack one on in the next frame. UConn’s closer just had to get three outs against the meat of the Bearkats lineup to get the series win.
But no pitcher is perfect. A single from freshman Cole Cowser set up first baseman Hunter Hearn for a walk-off home run, handing Sam Houston State the 6-5 win and the two-games-to-one series victory.
The first game of the series started off slow, but Sam Houston State came out on top of a wild sixth-inning exchange to make sure that UConn would have to come from behind during the weekend.
Sam Houston State jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, and Bearkat ace Hayden Wesneski had a no-hitter going until the sixth when Christian Fedko broke out of his mini-slump. He smashed a two-run double into left field to give the Huskies the advantage.
Sam Houston intentionally walked the next batter, Patrick Winkel, bringing the red-hot Kyler Fedko to the plate. The younger Fedko brother wouldn’t disappoint, smoking a three-run homer to center field to extend the lead to 5-1.
The Bearkats had other plans for the game, however. Feole started off the next frame by giving up a single, a walk and a double, after which he was pulled for Karl Johnson. The redshirt freshman faced three and failed to record an out, then was pulled for Caleb Wurster, who picked an inopportune time to have a poor outing. He allowed both inherited baserunners to score, then allowed two more of his own. This pushed the Bearkats lead to 8-5, one they would not give up for the rest of the day.
At least for the moment, the Huskies’ hitting woes with runners in scoring position were alleviated in a 9-4 win on Saturday to even the series. Three different players had multi-hit games and only two failed to reach base.
UConn starter Jeffrey Kersten was his usual steady self; he went five innings without allowing a single walk, striking out five. The Bearkats struck first with an RBI groundout in the first inning, but UConn would score in five consecutive innings—from the third to the eighth—en route to a victory.
Anthony Prato seems to really enjoy the leadoff spot he’s held down in recent weeks, demonstrating it on Saturday by reaching base five times to score a team-high two runs.
Both teams battled back and forth in the highly-entertaining series rubber match, but the Bearkats were able to pull the rug out from under the Huskies in the bottom of the ninth.
UConn was able to respond every time that the Bearkats were able to tie the game up until that point, but then they ran out of inning to do so.
UConn scored the first two runs of the game: Thad Phillips sent Kyler Fedko home on an RBI fielder’s choice after his triple clubbed to left center, and Anthony Nucerino sent Phillips home with an RBI single in the top of the fourth. Nucerino went 2-4 on the day, continuing his hot streak even when hitting from the bottom of the lineup.
But the Bearkats got to starter Jimmy Wang in the fourth inning, tying the game up 2-2. The teams would then trade runs until the eighth inning, where a Michael Woodworth RBI single in the top of the fifth made it 3-2, then a Gavin Johnson home run made it 3-3 again in the bottom of the inning. Woodworth scored on a wild pitch in the top of the seventh, then Wallace hit-by-pitched in a run in the bottom of that same inning.
UConn will try to gain some momentum back in the midweek when they take on CCSU Tuesday at 3 p.m.
Luke Swanson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.