This was supposed to be Kyler Fedko’s game. The third-year sophomore had the game of his life in Monday’s 9-8 loss to No. 7 Texas Tech. He went 5-for-5 at the plate with four runs scored, and he hit a go-ahead RBI double in the top of the 10th inning to put UConn ahead 7-6.
He also robbed a potential home run in the sixth inning to keep the Huskies in the lead for the moment.
But it was all for naught, as Texas Tech (14-3) completed the four-game sweep of UConn (4-10) with three consecutive home runs to start the bottom of the 10th. After Fedko’s big go-ahead hit, Kevin Ferrer got an infield single and Erik Stock drove Fedko in with a single up the middle to give the Huskies an 8-6 advantage.
They just needed a shutdown inning, and they had the right guy in the game for it. Caleb Wurster had been UConn’s most reliable reliever all season, giving up no earned runs in 10.2 innings pitched. He entered the game in the seventh and let up his first run of the season that inning, but he worked through a clean eighth and ninth inning. In the 10th, however, the Red Raiders got the best of him.
Nate Rombach led off with a home run to left-center field. Cal Conley followed that up with a bomb to deep left. Finally, Braxton Fulford hit one to almost the same spot to win the game and crush the Huskies. Three swings. Three solo home runs.
The Huskies had a really rough weekend in Lubbock, Texas, dropping the first three games, but they had a chance for at least a little redemption on Monday. Coming in, it didn’t look like that was going to happen. The pitching staff was taxed, and players like Reggie Crawford and Pat Winkel weren’t available for various reasons — Crawford lost a contact and had no replacement so he couldn’t see the ball in Sunday’s game, and Winkel suffered a hamstring injury.
But UConn got a decent start from Kenny Haus, who went 3.2 innings and only let up one run. Randy Polonia relieved Haus with a solid performance of his own. He went 2.1 innings with only one run allowed, working out of trouble in the sixth inning with some help from Fedko’s robbery.
During that time, the Huskies built up a little lead, pushing across two runs in the second inning on a bases loaded walk by Ciaran Devenney and a sacrifice fly by Chris Winkel. Another sacrifice fly by Zach Bushling in the sixth made the score 3-2, and an RBI double by Ferrer in the seventh gave UConn a very brief 4-2 lead.
However, in almost every inning, the Huskies still left runners on base, so even though they had a lead, they missed opportunities to make it larger. That would come back to haunt them in the seventh inning when Andrew Marrero let up a three-run home run to Dru Baker, giving Texas Tech the lead. They would add one more run in the inning to make it 6-4.
It looked like Texas Tech had taken control, but down to its final three outs, UConn got some magic going in the ninth. David Langer got hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, and Ben Maycock pinch ran for him. Fedko hit a single, and then both runners advanced on a wild pitch. Ferrer then hit a game-tying single up the middle to tie the game at six.
It seemed like fate was on the Huskies’ side, especially when they took the lead in the 10th, but that wasn’t the case and they lost in truly brutal fashion.
It’s been a terrible start to the season, and UConn has now lost five straight games. Texas Tech is one of the top 10 teams in the country, and the Huskies showed this weekend that they are not near that level. The team will look to regroup next weekend in a three-game series against St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia.