UConn baseball defeats Virginia Tech, plays Oklahoma Saturday
Published: Friday, May 31, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08
They call themselves the “Dead Men Walking,” but the UConn baseball team is very much alive.
After becoming the first No. 8 seed to win the Big East Tournament, the Huskies continued their postseason success with a 5-2 win against No. 1 seed Virginia Tech in their first game of the NCAA Tournament in Blacksburg, Va.
UConn (35-26), the No. 4 seed in the Blacksburg Region, will play No. 2 Oklahoma on Saturday at 5:30 p.m., while Virginia Tech faces No. 3 Coastal Carolina in an elimination game.
The Huskies are not known for being a power-hitting team, finishing sixth in the Big East in home runs and ninth in doubles, and they did not need to hit for power to knock off their ACC opponent. UConn compiled 16 hits – all of them singles – and every batter except Jon Testani recorded a hit.
Testani made an impact in his own way, as the right fielder was forced to chase down several deep balls, keeping the Hokies from scoring a couple potentially momentous runs.
UConn opened the scoring in the top of the second inning, when Eric Yavarone stepped up with two outs and runners on first and second. Yavarone hit a single to left field, bringing Bobby Melley around to score.
The Huskies did the majority of their damage in the fifth inning, scoring three runs to make it 4-0. LJ Mazzilli and Bobby Melley each had an RBI single in the inning. A third run scored in the inning when the ball slipped out of the Virginia Tech catcher’s hand and went past the pitcher, allowing Vinny Siena to score.
Carson Cross has been UConn’s ace all season, and delivered a strong appearance after missing the Big East Championship Game. Cross, a second team All-Big East selection this season, pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing one run on six hits while walking three batters and striking out three. Cross worked himself into a couple of tense situations but was able to escape them all with minimal damage done by Virginia Tech.
Coach Jim Penders pulled Cross from the game in the seventh inning after a one-out triple gave the Hokies a chance to cut UConn’s lead to 4-2. David Mahoney came in looking to build on the success he had at the Big East Tournament.
A walk and a hit batsman loaded the bases for Virginia Tech, but Mahoney was able to get cleanup hitter Tyler Horan to fly out to Testani on the warning track.
Siena’s sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth gave UConn a 5-1 lead, giving closer Pat Butler a cushion as he returned to the mound in the bottom of the ninth after picking up the last out in the eighth.
Butler got into a jam in the ninth, allowing the tying run to come to the plate at one point. But UConn’s closer allowed only one run, and the Huskies closed the game out to advance into the winners’ bracket for Saturday.