Cue DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win.”
After an impressive 5-0 week for the No. 18 UConn baseball team, the Huskies doubled down with another undefeated stretch, capping off their 4-0 week with a weekend sweep of the Seton Hall Pirates to extend their winning streak to nine straight.
In Thursday’s game, Connecticut did what they do best: jump out to an early lead. An Erik Stock RBI single to left put the Huskies on the board, and a bases-loaded walk made it a 2-0 game in the first inning. In the second, Casey Dana hit a sacrifice fly, followed by a Zach Bushling two-RBI triple that blew the game open to a 5-0 lead.
A bases-loaded walk for the Pirates in the third cut the lead to four, but in the fourth inning, an RBI triple from Stock and a sacrifice fly from Bushling put UConn on top by six. At this point, the game was all but over — or so the Huskies thought.
Give the Pirates their due credit — they never quit. Their pitching was able to shut down the Husky bats for the rest of the game, and they slowly chipped away at the UConn lead. A two-RBI triple and an RBI double in the sixth helped Seton Hall get within three runs. In the bottom of the ninth, the Pirates were able to load the bases with one out, where a two-RBI single made it a one-run ballgame. With the tying run on second base, closer Justin Willis was able to strike out the next two batters to take the first game of the series by score of 7-6.
Austin Peterson started out on the hill for UConn, extending his win/loss record to 7-0 after going seven full innings, allowing four runs, eight hits and two walks. He struck out five batters as well. Brady Afthim shut down the eighth, providing an inning of perfect relief. Willis struggled to start, loading the bases and giving up the big single, but found his composure just in time for his fifth save of the year.
Playing around Easter, the rest of the series took place as a doubleheader on Saturday. The second game had a very similar feeling to the first, with the Huskies jumping out to a lead and the Pirates fighting back in a photo finish. A Dana double in the third inning got UConn out to a 2-0 lead, and a sacrifice fly by designated hitter Christian Fedko put another run on the board in the seventh. That was the only run production of Saturday’s first game for the Huskies, who had a productive, yet slightly uncharacteristic, outing against SHU’s Nick Payero and Michael Ciminiello.
Despite this, things were going smoothly for UConn, who held a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth. Like Thursday, Seton Hall refused to give up, putting men on second and third with two outs before a two-RBI double put the game within one. In a déjà vu moment, Willis entered the game for Connecticut to strike out the final batter, sealing the game for the Huskies 3-2.
Pat Gallagher was stellar for the Huskies on the mound, going six full innings, allowing no runs, four hits and three walks and fanning five Pirates. Ian Cooke was solid in relief until the ninth, putting two in scoring position before Brendan O’Donnell got the call. It was O’Donnell that gave up the big double, leading coach Jim Penders to bring in Willis to close out the game with the tying run on second.
The third and final game of the series went a lot smoother than the first two for Connecticut. T.C. Simmons kicked things off in the third with a single that brought in the first run of the game. Bushling followed up with an RBI single in the fourth, but it wasn’t until the fifth inning that the game got out-of-hand for Seton Hall. The Huskies put up six runs, thanks to hits like a David Smith triple, a bases-clearing double from Dana and a Ben Huber single. At this point, it was 8-0 UConn, and the two runs that the Pirates put up in the bottom of the inning seemed to inflict no damage.
The Husky offense followed up that six-run fifth inning with a five-run sixth, never relenting in their onslaught. Most notable in that frame was a towering three-run homer from Bryan Padilla. In the eighth, a RBI fielder’s choice from Ryan Hyde put the cherry on top of a dominant 14-2 win.
Starting pitcher Enzo Stefanoni was fantastic on Saturday, throwing for eight innings, allowing just one earned run on five hits and four walks alongside four strikeouts. Jack Sullivan was great in relief as well, throwing the final inning and allowing one hit and zero runs.
Now sitting at 28-7 and 6-0 in Big East play, UConn looks to continue their winning streak with a pair of one-off games against Massachusetts teams in the middle of the week. They are slated to take on UMass on Tuesday at 3:05 p.m. and Boston College at 7 p.m.