Baseball: UConn wins in captain Verdi's return
UConn captain Tom Verdi returned to the starting lineup on Wednesday afternoon in the Huskies' 7-4 win over the Brown Bears. Verdi was kept out of his starting shortstop role for the first 30 games because of a wrist injury.
Verdi went 1-3 on the day with a single, two groundouts and a hit by pitch in his first game since coming on as a pinch runner back on March 1 against Lipscomb University.
"I was more excited than nervous," Verdi said. "I've been itching to get out there and I just love playing with these guys and to get a 'W' is the most important part."
Head coach Jim Penders has used Verdi three times this season, all as a pinch runner. Before Wednesday's game, he had scored two runs for the Huskies and he added one to that total on Wednesday by scoring the first run of the game.
Penders put Verdi in the thick of the lineup right away, starting Verdi at the leadoff spot. Verdi delivered in his first plate appearance, connecting on a fastball and driving it into right center field for his first hit of the season.
"He's our senior captain, and if he can't handle it we're in really tough shape," Penders said about putting Verdi in the leadoff spot. "That's where we thought he'd be in the beginning of the year, and it was good to see him in that leadoff spot and really good to see him at shortstop."
After the game, Verdi noted that he felt comfortable batting leadoff in his first game back.
"I like leading off," Verdi said. "I led off three-quarters of the year last year and I'm comfortable there. I enjoy being there."
Verdi was able to get another at-bat in the second inning and this time with a runner on first base, grounded into a double play to end the inning. Verdi stepped to the plate once again in the fourth inning and grounded out to second base to end the inning.
In the sixth inning, Verdi had an opportunity to drive in a run with Jack Sundberg standing in scoring position on second base but he was hit by a pitch. Verdi was able to shake it off and jog to first base.
Verdi's wrist injury isn't fully recovered yet, but Verdi said that his wrist feels good.
"There's a little discomfort," Verdi said. "Nothing crazy, I'm not hesitating at all swinging, not hesitating at all fielding. It's real good, and it's only going to get better."
Verdi and the Huskies are back in action this weekend again for an American Athletic Conference series against the Cincinnati Bearcats.
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