Villanova may have ended UConn’s 12-game win streak, but that doesn’t mean the Huskies couldn’t start a new one after beating the Wildcats on Sunday. Hook C started a new week, beating the Northeastern Huskies on Tuesday and the Yale Bulldogs on Wednesday.
UConn traveled to Boston for the Huskies-Huskies matchup, and dogs from both dugouts were ready to fight. However, it wasn’t until the bottom of the fourth inning that Northeastern decided to defend its doghouse. UConn’s Cole Chudoba kept Northeastern off the board until this point, but the Huskies from Boston were catching up to his pitches. A couple of ground balls and walks secured the lead for Northeastern, up 2-0 going into the fifth inning.
The next visits to the batter’s box for UConn were much of the same as the beginning of the game, Northeastern keeping the lead and UConn with a few small hits but unable to bring anything home. For the bottom of the fifth, Jack Sullivan took the mound to relieve Chudoba and despite issuing a few walks, held Northeastern to just two runs for another inning. In the sixth, each team suffered several strikeouts to make it quickly through to the seventh inning.
In the seventh, UConn came ready to answer Northeastern’s runs. Zach Bushling started off the hits with a double and Ben Huber followed up with a single. Upon a throwing error by a Northeastern Husky in centerfield, Bushling rounded the bases towards home to score UConn its first run. Although Matt Donlan struck out next, Huber was able to steal third and set himself up to come home when Christian Fedko singled. This tied the game at 2-2, as Hook C was unable to follow up on David Smith’s double to capitalize on it.
The next two and a half innings were filled with incredible suspense as both teams tried to break the tie, but neither were able to have a runner reach all four bases. Overcome with pressure, there were more walks and strikeouts than hits. As a result, the game was headed into overtime and gave more opportunities for UConn to cycle through the bullpen with Devin Kirby and Brady Afthim each getting their chance on the mound leading up to the tenth inning.
Sent to first base after being hit by a pitch, Smith was then able to advance to second base after sneaking by a passed ball. Chris Brown decided to bunt, making it on base and allowing Smith to reach third. Erik Stock and T.C. Simmons followed Smith’s lead and took a hit, propelling Smith to take back the lead for UConn as he scored a run. Bushling, who had been clutch for hits on Tuesday, only needed to hit a single to advance Stock and Brown all the way around the bases to bring UConn up 5-2.
Despite being fired up about the comeback and eventual win, UConn cooled off immediately with a walk, strikeout and ground ball. Hook C had bases loaded and was close to another run but reached three outs before the Connecticut Huskies had the chance. Nonetheless, Brendan O’Donnell was able to keep Northeastern at bay and deliver the final out at the bottom of the tenth. O’Donnell was credited with the win on Tuesday’s matchup as UConn returned to Storrs victorious, 5-2.
For Wednesday’s game at home against Yale, UConn had more of a sense of urgency. Instead of having an extreme scoring run, the Huskies held a steady but strong pace throughout the game.
Huber’s single in the bottom of the first propelled Stock home for the early lead and only scoring play of the inning. The second inning followed a similar trend as Yale was unable to find momentum and UConn brought it home again. This time, it was a pop fly from Simmons that was able to catch some air and leave enough time for Bryan Padilla to make his way to home plate.
With Yale still scoreless, UConn kicked it up a notch with two major scoring plays in the third inning. Donlan’s ground ball brought Huber in, followed by a strong hit from Matt Garbowski. Garbowski ended up as a double, which was all that Bushling needed to run home and increase UConn’s lead to four runs.
For the fourth inning, the Huskies remained modest with just one run. Huber had another hit, a double this time, and T.C. Simmons took the hint to keep running to mark the fifth tally. UConn kept the scoring through the fifth with small moves here and there to climax at a fly ball from Brown. Triggering a chain reaction, Donlan completed the sequence with another score to close out the inning.
Ian Cooke, who started on the mound for UConn, continued to keep the Bulldogs from running home. This was Cooke’s first time back on the mound following his impressive career-high eight inning game last Wednesday over the Boston College Eagles. He looked to keep the same energy exactly a week later and did so with ease. Cooke pitched for the first five innings and handed Yale five strikeouts before Kirby took over to pitch for the sixth inning. At the top of the seventh, Sam Favieri had his chance to throw as well.
Favieri only had a few pitches, but Yale was able to find its way around the bases for two runs. O’Donnell took the mound after, but it only lessened the scoring instead of stopping it. He allowed another run before Garrett Coe tried to finally put a stop to Yale’s scoring and keep UConn in the lead.
At the bottom of the eighth, UConn’s offense answered Yale’s runs with two runs off hits from Huber and Bushling. Huber’s double brought in Stock while Bushling’s fly ball sent Huber around the diamond for an eventual Hook C win with eight runs.
Yale was due up at bat one more time and made good use of it, but the team was only able to score one more run. Still, it was an 8-4 game and UConn remained on the winning side of the final score Wednesday evening. Justin Willis closed out the game for the Huskies, who are now 34-8 on the season.
For this weekend’s series, UConn will face Butler University and travel to Indianapolis, Indiana for a three-game series in the return to Big East play.