Baseball: Huber’s six hits, Padilla’s five RBIs propel Hook C to sweep against FAU 


In the two games they managed to complete in the Golden State, the UConn baseball team scored 13 runs with most of them coming in a 10-inning battle against the Cal Poly Mustangs. The Hook C’s bats continued to rake with 19 total runs scored while the pitching contained the FAU Owls without shutting them out in a three-game sweep. 

UConn got on the board in the second inning as Ben Huber ripped a double to left field before sacrifice groundouts from TC Simmons and Bryan Padilla helped him cross the plate. The Owls had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the third with runners on the corners, but Ian Cooke got Nolan Schanuel to foul out on the first pitch of his at-bat. The Huskies’ 1-0 advantage remained intact until Cooke walked three batters in the bottom of the fifth, the third of which brought in the tying run. 

The Hook C’s bats erupted in the top of the sixth after being limited to three hits in five innings. Luke Broadhurst singled and stole second before scoring after Korey Morton reached on an error. UConn increased its lead from one to three in three pitches as Gavin Freeberger ripped a double to left center and Huber belted his second double to bring him home. Two batters later, Padilla collected another RBI while giving the Huskies a major insurance run. 

But FAU did not go down without a fight. After going down in order in the bottom half of the sixth, Jalen Debose knocked Cooke out of the game before a walk and a passed ball allowed Schanuel to rip a two-out, two-run double to left field in the seventh. The Huskies got one run back as they twice loaded the bases before Jake Studley got hit by a pitch, allowing Huber to touch home plate for the third time. 

The Owls responded immediately as Christian Adams smacked a leadoff double and scored when Mitchell Hartigan singled to right centerfield. Brady Afthim, relieving Devin Kirby, got Andrew Hernandez to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat. Justin Willis entered the game in the ninth inning, slamming the door shut on 12 pitches as the Hook C opened the series with a 6-4 win. 

While FAU’s offense recorded seven hits in the series opener, Stephen Quigley did not allow one across the first five innings of his second-ever start in a UConn uniform. Neither offense got anything going in those frames, with the only exception being an RBI double from Smith that brought Broadhurst in after he reached on an error in the top of the third. The Huskies had a chance to blow the game open as singles from Niko Brini and Freeberger as well as a walk to Morton loaded the bases, but Huber grounded into a double play to keep the score at 1-0. Quigley’s no-hit bid ended in the bottom half when Armando Albert singled, but Dylan Goldstein subsequently grounded into a double play. 

Having not capitalized earlier, the Hook C doubled their lead in the seventh as Ryan Daniels ripped a pinch-hit two-out double to right field before scoring on a Matt Garbowski single. The Owls got one back in the bottom half as Hartigan’s RBI single knocked the Wheaton College transfer out of the game, but Will Nowak almost immediately caught him stealing second to escape the jam. 

UConn’s offense added some serious insurance in the top of the eighth as Smith doubled to right field while both Freeberger and Studley walked to load the bases. Having recorded two RBIs on Friday, Padilla added three more with a double down the left field line. FAU got runners on third in the final two innings, but Willis picked up his second save of the weekend after striking out the last three batters he faced for a series-clinching 5-1 victory. 

The Huskies had yet to hit a home run in the first two games, but that changed when Freeberger turned on a baseball that barely got over the left field wall for his second long ball of the season. The Hook C put runners on the corner after Huber doubled and stole third while Daniels walked, but did not bring any more runs across. The Owls tied the game at two with two consecutive two-out walks, but Andrew Sears forced Jackson Ross to fly out before they could snatch the lead. 

Following a quiet and quick third inning, UConn’s offense went full steam ahead in the top of the fourth in a five-run frame. Smith singled in the first run with the bases loaded and Morton brought a run in on a sacrifice fly, but Huber did the most damage with a line-drive two-RBI double before Studley singled him home three pitches later. After Smith reached second base and Freeberger walked, Huber stepped up and whacked an infield single that brought home the Hook C’s eighth run of the game. 

FAU threatened with a runner in scoring position following two consecutive half-innings with a double play, but after Schanuel grounded into a fielder’s choice, Padilla snagged a line drive and threw a dart to first base that got the Huskies out of the jam. After UConn threatened in the top of the eighth, the Owls got a runner in scoring position before Afthim got the next three batters out. Willis did not come into the game up six, but Garrett Coe wrapped up the series by quelling the threat of runners on the corner as the Hook C finished off the sweep 8-2.  

After spending the first three weekends of the season on the road, the Huskies (6-3) return to Elliot Ballpark for their home opener against the Hartford Hawks on Tuesday, March 7. First pitch in this one-game series is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. on UConn+. 

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