Through four innings it looked like UConn was in for another tightly contested game, but a couple huge five-run frames late in the game blew the doors open for the Huskies (10-12), who once again took care of business at Elliott Ballpark en route to a 12-0 win over the Eagles.
Tuesday’s matchup started with some impressive pitching from both sides, with UConn’s Pat Gallagher and BC’s Joe Mancini each throwing four shutout innings. Gallagher threw another scoreless top of the fifth, but a pitching change from the Eagles opened the floodgates for what ended up being an offensive onslaught by the Huskies.
Ben Maycock got on base first in the bottom of the fifth after being hit by a pitch and UConn took no time to capitalize, as three-year captain Chris Winkel hit his third home run of the year to break the tie and put the Huskies up 2-0.
The Huskies would go scoreless in the sixth before adding on some insurance runs over the next two frames, which head coach Jim Penders said came down to keeping composure.
“It looked like guys just got a little more comfortable,” Penders said. “The 7, 8, 9 guys got us going and then it was ok for everybody to hit. It kinda loosened them up and [they] hit some of their better swings.”
It was Maycock who got things started again for UConn in the seventh with a single. A ground rule double from Chris Brown and wild pitch would get Maycock across home plate for the team’s first run of the inning, but the Huskies were far from done.
Winkel got his third RBI of the day off a single, which was immediately followed by a Zach Bushling hit to set up Kyler Fedko with two men on base. And as he begun to do lately, the Big East Preseason Player of the Year hit a 3-run homer, his fourth of the year, to extend UConn’s lead to seven. Fedko would finish 2-5 on the day with three RBI and a couple of nice plays out in right field to help keep the Eagles at bay.
Things got even better for the Huskies one inning later, as another five-run inning in the eighth all but sealed the win. Christian Fedko and Erik Stock got on base to start things off before pinch hitter David Langer came in and knocked in his second run of the season. Brown followed this up with a bases-clearing single of his own before Chris Winkel hit his second homer of the day to give UConn the 12-0 lead.
Winkel ended the game going 3-5 with two homers and a game-high five RBI. Penders was ecstatic with his performance.
“Everybody roots for Chris Winkel and it’s good to see him have a really nice day,” Penders said. “He looked confident and he’s certainly capable of doing exactly what he did today. Hopefully that gets him going for the rest of the season.”
The difference in this game was ultimately the bullpen. After the Eagles took out Mancini, they were forced to put out seven other pitchers, only one of which lasted more than one inning. For UConn, however, Kenny Haus, Andrew Marrero, Caleb Wurster and Justin Willis all pitched near-perfect games, complimenting Gallagher’s five scoreless innings with a combined four of their own. Together they shut out the Eagles for just the second time all season, their lone scoreless game prior coming against No. 7 Louisville.
The Huskies have more home games to look forward to this weekend with UMass set to visit Storrs for a 3-game series Friday and Saturday. After yesterday’s big win, they’ll be heading into those games with some serious momentum.