Baseball: Ward throws complete game in UConn's win over CCSU
UConn first baseman Bobby Melley fields a throw during last weekend’s series with Temple at J.O. Christian Field. After dropping two out of three games to the Owls, the Huskies defeated Central Connecticut 9-1 Monday afternoon in Storrs. Melley went 1-for-3 and drove in two runs. STEVEN QUICK/The Daily Campus
Brian Ward pitched a complete game, allowing one run on four hits, as the UConn baseball team beat Central Connecticut 9-1 Monday at J.O. Christian Field.
Ward struggled to find the strike zone in the first inning, throwing eight straight balls and walking the first two batters of the game. UConn head coach Jim Penders trusted his senior and let him work out of the struggle.
"He's a veteran," Penders said. "If it were a freshman that threw eight straight, you know that (pitching coach) Josh MacDonald would be out on the mound. He needs to be living on the corners, so I wasn't super concerned."
Ward worked out of the inning without letting up a run.
Ward opened up the second and third innings with walks, but the Blue Devils were unable to take advantage of the free runners.
"It took me a little while to get the strike zone down and get the feel for all my pitches but once I locked in my fielders were behind me," Ward said.
Ward settled down, avoiding another walk while striking out six batters.
The complete game was the first for a UConn pitcher since Anthony Marzi's complete game in the Big East championship game last season. Nine innings was also a career high for Ward.
Central's starting pitcher, Dominic Severino, cruised through the first two innings, retiring the first six Huskies he faced before running into trouble in the bottom of the third inning.
Severino hit UConn second basemen Aaron Hill with a pitch to lead off the bottom of the third inning, and on a perfectly executed hit-and-run, Hill advanced to third on a Jack Sundberg single to left field. Senior captain Tom Verdi then notched his second RBI of the year with a double that brought Hill across the plate. UConn tacked on two more runs in the inning to take a 3-0 lead.
Central responded with a run in the fourth inning, but that is all the would get on the day.
UConn took advantage of two Central errors, loading the bases for Sundberg, who then cleared the bases with a triple to the warning track in right field. It was the first triple of the season for the center fielder.
Sundberg finished the day 3-for-3 with two singles, a triple, three RBIs, a run scored and two stolen bases.
UConn brought two more runs across the board in the bottom of the seventh inning when Bobby Melley notched a single to left field. Ryan Sullivan then drove in another run, scoring Melley with a double to center field to make it 9-1.
Monday marked the start of a hectic week for the Huskies, as they will play five more games before the end of the week. Penders noted that it was beneficial for UConn to only use one pitcher on Monday.
"It was a perfect prescription, what the doctor ordered," Penders said. "We needed Brian go deep in the game, I couldn't draw it up any better, really. We've got a full pen behind Callahan Brown making his first start tomorrow so that's a better feeling for me going up to UMass knowing that we didn't have to use guys early today or at all."
Brown's first start comes on the road, as the Huskies (19-19) take on UMass in Amherst today at 3 p.m.
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