There aren’t many better ways to bring your spirits back up than UConn baseball’s 17-1 blowout of the nearby University of Hartford Hawks, but the team’s next three games against UMBC may have just done the trick.
While the Huskies momentum was certainly not low after their heartbreaking loss to Boston College at Elliot Ballpark, it would be important that they got back into the win column and after an excellent win on Thursday, that victory would be the first of many to come.
With Ian Cooke on the mound, UConn was able to look forward to an excellent outing from its ace and it wouldn’t take long for the team’s bats to follow suit. The hard-hitting Luke Broadhurst gave the Huskies a one run lead in the bottom of the first before an explosive second run inning that would result in four runs for the Hook C. It would begin with a Bryan Padilla sacrifice fly to score Korey Morton, but that of course was just the start. A crucial throwing error from the Retrievers would allow Ryan Hyde to score and David Smith to advance to third. Shortly after, Jake Studley would score Smith from third on a single before another opportunity for Broadhurst would arise. His second RBI of the day would come on a single, scoring Ben Huber to make it 5-0.
Those five runs would be all that the Hook C needed to grab their second straight victory. Cooke pitched six innings of two-run baseball, an outing that manager Jim Penders needs from his star pitcher every day. In total, UConn would grab nine runs of offense and despite some fight from the Retrievers in the eighth, Connecticut would hold on to win game one by a score of 9-4.
Game two would also be a home game, but it wouldn’t take part in the familiar confines of Elliot Ballpark. Instead, baseball would be played about 25 miles to the west at Dunkin Donuts Park, home of the Hartford Yard Goats. There, the Huskies would give the ball to Andrew Sears and unlike game one, the Retrievers would be the team to strike first.
In the top of the first, Leewood Molessa would send a bomb to left field, bringing Molessa and his teammate Ian Diaz home to give UMBC a 2-0 lead. While it may not have been the start the Huskies were looking for, the end result would certainly be in their favor.
Sears would rebound and in the third inning, the Hook C bats would come alive, scoring five runs for the home team. Just like game one, an error would be at the center of another explosive offensive output. That mistake from UMBC would bring home Matt Garbowski to make it a one run game, while a Huber single would tie the game for the Huskies.
Next to step up to the plate was Studley and with two runners on base, one swing of the bat from the UConn outfielder would bring home three runs and give the Hook C a commanding 5-2 lead. The next inning would result in three more runs by the way of the long bomb, this time by Dominic Freeberger.
The score was 8-2 and UConn’s arms continued to dominate the UMBC lineup. Unlike game one, there would be no hope in the latter innings for a comeback and even worse for the Retrievers, the Huskies would continue to add valuable run support and in the end, the offense would add up to 11 runs on a staggering 14 hits. Talk about a day from UConn baseball in its first outing in Hartford.
With two games that resulted in victory for Connecticut, it was time to go for the sweep and it was the job of Jack Sullivan to silence UMBC’s bats in the series finale.
Sullivan took that call to heart and delivered an outing worthy of praise. Five innings of no run baseball would be just what the doctor ordered for UConn and when you couple that with an excellent day from the bullpen, you get a UMBC lineup that had no answer for the Huskies pitchers.
For the bats, it was another 11 run day and the start of that productivity for the Huskies offense could once again be found in the third and fourth inning. Broadhurst had been impressive in game one of the weekend series and he came up clutch once again with a two RBI single to bring in Huber and Freeberger. Once again, mistakes would fall in UConn’s favor as a wild pitch from Retrievers starter Nick Remy brought in two more runs, giving the Hook C a 5-0 lead for what would lead to more trouble for Elliot Ballpark’s visitors.
A three run fourth inning, coupled with another three run inning in the eighth, totaled 11 runs and 14 hits, the exact same total as Saturday’s blowout win. Broadhurst would be the catalyst for the team’s offensive prosperities, giving three RBIs and totaling six on the weekend. Overall, eight Huskies would grab a hit in the 8-1 home stand.
Next, with plenty of success in their first impressive home stand of the season, they’ll head up to New York for games against Columbia and a series against Big East rival St. John’s.