Baseball: UConn dominates during weekend sweep in S.C.
Published: Sunday, February 23, 2014
Updated: Sunday, February 23, 2014 22:02
After dropping its first three games of the season last weekend at the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Fla., the UConn baseball team rebounded with a three-game sweep at the Baseball at the Beach Tournament in Conway, S.C., defeating Wichita State, George Mason and Illinois to move to 3-3 on the year.
After being stymied defensively by Wichita State for the majority of the night on Friday, and with the game tied 1-1 in the bottom of the 10th, UConn was able to load the bases for left fielder Eric Yavarone, who stepped into the box and knocked a single to centerfield, plating captain Tom Verdi and winning the game for the Huskies–their first victory of the young 2014 season.
Top performers for UConn against the Shockers were center fielder Jack Sundberg (3-for-4), first baseman Bobby Melley (1-for-4, RBI), third baseman Bryan Daniello (2-for-5) and Yavarone, who went 3-for-5 and batted in the game–winning run.
Redshirt junior righthander Jordan Tabakman drew the start for UConn, pitching five innings and allowing four hits, one earned run and three walks against five strikeouts.
Redshirt sophomore Max Slade and freshman Anthony Kay each made relief appearances for the Huskies, with Slade netting two strikeouts and two hits in one inning of work. Kay pitched the final four innings of the game and earned his first collegiate win after holding the Shockers scoreless, racking up seven strikeouts and allowing only three hits.
The Huskies took the field on Saturday night for their second game of the tournament against George Mason, a contest UConn won 11-2 thanks to an explosive show of offense.
Sundberg, once again leading off and playing centerfield, had another excellent showing for UConn, going 3-for-5 with two runs and one RBI. Melley (3-for-4, two RBI, one run), second baseman Vinny Siena (2-for-5, two RBI, three runs) and Yavarone (2-for-3, 2B, two RBI, one run) also had superb outings at the plate against the Patriots.
Senior Anthony Marzi manned the bump for the Huskies against George Mason, going five innings and striking out six while allowing six hits, two earned runs and two walks.
Freshman Pat Ruotolo relieved Marzi in the sixth inning, going two innings and striking out two while giving up only one hit in his second collegiate appearance. Redshirt freshman Ryan Radue and redshirt sophomore Devin Over also chipped in one scoreless inning apiece.
The Huskies–who did the majority of their offensive damage in the bottom of the third inning, scoring five runs on three hits–finished the game with 12 total hits in 36 at bats, good for a .333 team batting average.
With two wins in their first two games in the tournament, UConn completed the sweep with a 6-0 shutout win over Illinois, a team that finished 35-20 in 2013 and advanced as far as the NCAA Regionals.
Getting the win on the hill for the Huskies was senior southpaw Brian Ward, who improved his record to 1-1 after dropping his first appearance of the season on Feb. 16 against Auburn. Ward threw 5.2 scoreless innings for UConn, allowing just two hits and striking out six.
Zapata and redshirt junior David Mahoney each made relief appearances, combining to throw 3.1 shutout innings and allowing just one hit while striking out three.
Offensively it was Siena leading the way for the Huskies, as the second baseman finished the afternoon having gone 3-for-6 with a double, one RBI and one run. Sundberg (2-for-4, one RBI, one run) and right fielder Davey Blake (2-for-4, one RBI, one run) also had solid outings at the plate for UConn in the win.
Melley and junior catcher Connor David also each posted one RBI each for the Huskies.
Head coach Jim Penders’ squad finished the tournament having generated 39 hits in 114 plate appearances, equating to a .342 team batting average over the course of the three games.
UConn returns to the field on Feb. 28 for the first of a three-game road series against Lipscomb in Nashville. Coverage of the games can be heard on 91.7-WHUS.