Under the bright lights on Dunkin’ Park in Hartford, Connecticut, the No. 10 University of Connecticut baseball team played like stars as the team put together an all-around performance to claim a convincing 9-0 win over the University of Rhode Island Rams.
The Husky offense got to work immediately following a scoreless top of the first inning. A walk by T.C. Simmons followed by a Dominic Freeburger double to left center put two runners in scoring position for the red-hot Jake Studley. The outfielder capitalized with a two-run double to left center on an 0-2 count to give Connecticut two quick runs. A walk and a groundout gave the Hook C two more runners in scoring position with two outs, and Bryan Padilla took advantage of the ducks on the pond with a two-run single to right field. At the end of one inning, the Huskies already had a comfortable 4-0 advantage.
Connecticut’s attack carried on over into the bottom of the second. Korey Morton led off the frame with a double down the right field line and was awarded third base on a throwing error by URI pitcher Jeremy Urena. He scampered home after David Smith grounded out to second base one batter later. Later in the frame, Freeberger reached base again via a single back up the middle and made it to third base after Studley rifled a single to left. With Luke Broadhurst at the dish, Studley took off for second base and reached safely after a throwing error by Rams’ catcher Rob Butler. On the play, Freeberger was allowed to score to up Connecticut’s lead to 6-0 after two frames.
UConn’s offense got another rally started in the bottom of the third. Maddix Dalena started the inning off by working a walk on a full count and advanced to second after Padilla laid down a sacrifice bunt. The lead–off walk almost went to waste when a strikeout brought the inning to two outs, but Morton picked up his team with a single to left field to plate Dalena for UConn’s seventh run of the game. The Huskies loaded the bases with two outs but couldn’t manage another run in the frame and led 7-0 after three innings.
Both offenses went cold over the next few innings until UConn made their lead insurmountable in the bottom of the eighth. The inning started with consecutive walks by Morton and Smith, and the two advanced 90 feet into scoring position thanks to a wild pitch. Two outs later, the Huskies appeared to be on the verge of stranding two runners in scoring position. With a full count, Studley struck out but was able to reach first base after a second throwing error by Butler. With the bases juiced, Broadhurst struck a ground-rule double to chase home Morton and Smith and elevate Connecticut’s lead to 9-0 after eight innings.
Garrett Coe was given the nod for the Huskies and, despite having some issues finding the strike zone, ultimately did his job over the game’s first three innings. The righty allowed just one hit but walked two and threw three wild pitches, but he struck out five batters and was able to keep Rhode Island off of the board after their offense managed to get a runner into scoring position in all three of his innings. After Coe, head coach Jim Penders maximized his bullpen by bringing into six different arms to put away the Rams. Michael Quigley (1 IP, 1 K), Thomas Ellisen (2 IP, 1 K), Joe Carrea (1 IP, 3 K), Jude Abbadessa (0.2 IP, 1 K), Zach Fogell (0.1 IP, 1 K), and Brady Afthim (1 IP) each tallied scoreless outings as the entire pitching staff was able to shut down the Rhode Island bats.
After the win, Connecticut now sits at 30-11 and is 12-3 in games played in Connecticut. In the meantime, Xavier drops to 17-20 and has now lost four of their previous five games.
The Huskies’ next contestant will come in the form of the Villanova Wildcats when they travel to Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania for three games starting on Friday. All three games will be played at Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth, with game one scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday, game two slated for 1 p.m. Saturday, and game three on Sunday at 12 p.m. Fans can tune into the live audio for all three matchups via MIXLR.