A five-run outburst in the first inning propelled UConn to an 8-4 victory over in-state rival Sacred Heart Wednesday in Stony Brook, New York.
The Huskies’ first midweek game of the season was played at Joe Nathan Field at Stony Brook University. The game was originally scheduled to be played at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, but the weather forced the change.
UConn (7-6) started the game on fire. In the bottom of the first, Max McDowell slugged a two-run home run and Bryan Daniello added an RBI triple. He scored in the inning on a wild pitch. Bobby Melley added a sacrifice fly.
Coach Jim Penders handed the ball to Andrew Zapata Wednesday for his first start of the season. He went 3.2 innings, allowing four runs with four strikeouts and a walk.
Sacred Heart (0-9) answered in the fourth inning, put up all four of their runs to chase Zapata. Three straight Pioneer batters drove in the runs. With two outs in the inning, Penders brought in Ryan Radue to put out the fire. He induced a ground ball out to get out of the inning and struck out the side in the fifth inning.
Devin Over relieved Radue in the top of the sixth and fired a 1-2-3 inning. In the bottom half, Blake Davey smashed a two-run double into the gap to give the Huskies a 7-4 lead. Over went back out for another clean frame in the seventh. UConn wasn’t done scoring. Joe Deorche-Duffy hit a long solo home run. He finished 2-for-4 on the day with two runs scored. Nico Darras came in for the eighth inning and struck out two. Patrick Ruotolo closed the game out in the ninth to seal the victory for UConn.
Radue, Over, Darras and Ruotolo combined for 5.1 shutout innings, a welcome sign for a bullpen that struggled mightily in the opening weekends.
UConn improved to 16-3 all time against Sacred Heart with the win. Up next, the Huskies play Furman, USC Upstate and Michigan State from March 13-15 in the BB&T College Baseball Series at Fluor Field in Greenville, South Carolina. First up is Furman Friday at 5 p.m.