UConn falls to Holy Cross after costly two runs pass them by

The University of Connecticut baseball team dropped an 8-7 game to Holy Cross yesterday. In a game that saw 11 pitchers come in, the Huskies could not nail down a one run lead in the ninth inning.

Entering the ninth with a 7-6 lead, Devin Over returned for his fourth inning of work. He was pulled after allowing a walk and a double. Coach Jim Penders handed the ball to Trevor Holmes to close the game out. Holmes was able to get a pop out and a strikeout, but could not ultimately get the job done. The Crusaders’ Anthony Critelli roped a hard line drive through the left side to drive in the tying and winning runs.

“Devin (Over) was the best he’s looked in a long time today and we ran him back out there. He walked the leadoff guy and then a double. So, we decide to go to our best strikeout guy (Holmes). He got two guys, we walk a guy and then their really good hitter got up and found a hole,” Penders said.

Andrew Zapata got the start for UConn (28-18) and was inconsistent. He went just 4.1 innings, allowing four runs on eight hits, while striking out six with one walk.

“He wasn’t sharp, he was up in the zone. It was a step backwards today. They were getting a lot of barrels on balls,” Penders said.

The Crusaders got on the board early, scratching a run out in the first inning with a Connor Perry RBI double. UConn was able to respond immediately in the bottom half. Vinny Siena got it started, picking up his 200th career hit as a Husky. He then stole second and advanced to third on an error before a sacrifice fly from Bobby Melley.

The same script was followed in the second, with Holy Cross (23-24) putting a run across in the top of the second and then the Huskies responded in the bottom half. Down 2-1, it took a Jack Sundberg two out, two RBI single to even the game. In the top of the third, Perry hit a towering home run over the centerfield hedges at J.O. Christian to give the Crusaders even the score at three.

The Crusaders chased Zapata in the top of the fifth following a one-out double. He gave way to Callahan Brown. Brown faced four batters, allowing two hits, a walk, and a run with just one out recorded. Brown was relieved by Over, who was able to limit the damage to just one more run before getting out of the inning.

Trailing 5-3, the Huskies rallied to tie it in the bottom of the sixth. Willy Yahn drew a rare leadoff walk. Aaron Hill, pinch hitting for Bryan Daniello, laid down a sacrifice bunt and was able to reach due to a throwing error. Yahn advanced to third and Hill was on second. A wild pitch would bring Yahn home to score and Hill to third. Sundberg was able to drive Hill home on an RBI single to make it a 5-5 ballgame.

The Huskies took what looked to be a decisive lead in the 7th. Following a Max McDowell walk, Yahn jumped on a changeup, driving it well over the left field wall to give UConn a 7-5 lead.

“Well, Willy’s learning. There’s a book on him. He hit a changeup there, drove it and gave us a chance to win the ballgame,” Penders said.

Yahn’s homer wouldn’t hold up. In the top of the eighth, the Huskies struggled to get out of the inning. Over allowed back to back singles. Hill knocked down a hard hit ball over the middle, but could not turn the double play in time. It would have ended the inning. Siena then committed an error to allow the runner to score, making it a 7-6 game.

UConn went down quietly in the bottom of the eighth before surrendering the lead in the ninth.

“Those little things, in a game like this, we’ve had a lot of them here. You look back and say, ‘How many different things did we screw up?’” Penders said. “It wasn’t just one walk. We don’t complete a double play that would have ended the inning. We find a way to make the late innings at J.O. Christian Field an adventure for ourselves. I don’t have any explanation for it. It should be getting better, but it’s getting worse,” Penders said.

UConn is next in action this weekend. They travel to East Carolina for a three game series, beginning Friday. Coach Penders seemed confident on his team’s psyche for the big road test ahead.

“We have to play with a lot more confidence. Right now we don’t look like a confident ball club. We gotta figure a way to do that away from home. Maybe it’s good we’re back on the road, we’ve been much more resilient on the road than we have at home,” said Penders.

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Chelsea’s defensive play raises questions with Arsenal fans

This past weekend, there was a clash of English powers when 2nd place Arsenal tried to best the Chelsea Blues at home, hoping for at least a chance to slow down Chelsea on their way to the title races.

Unfortunately, they only managed a 0-0 draw, and now the fate of the season rests solely in the 1st place Blues hands. The controversy behind the fixture came due to the fact that Chelsea played extremely conservative most of the game, making it near impossible for the in-form Arsenal squad to force errors and goals on the superstar team.

Near the end of the fixture, Arsenal fans started chanting, “Boring, boring Chelsea!” to add their own twist to the chant often used against Arsenal in the 1970s. However, Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho was not impressed by the chants, retorting, “Boring is 10 years without winning a Premier League title. That is boring.” I personally can’t stop laughing about what an insufferable whiner Mourinho is. You pretty much just wrapped up the Premier League and you still feel the need to talk rubbish against some angry fans. It’s even worse when you look at the challenges Arsene Wenger and Arsenal have actually gone through these past ten years.

While Chelsea accepted large amounts of money from their sponsor, bringing them stability and success, Arsenal had to buy a whole new stadium, completely sapping their transfer money and forcing the team into a must-win mentality. Even still, Wenger coached up nobody prospects into world class players and brought the team into the top 4 almost every year. Not only is this extraordinary, it was also necessary due to the money that teams get from the Champions’ League. Without that money, Arsenal would have rebuilt even slower and been unable to repay their debts for the stadium as quickly.

Similarly, the team had to part ways with many world-class players such as Nasri, Fabregas and Robin van Persie in order to pay off debts and purchase lower-level players to be coached up. So when Mourinho tells the press that 10 years without a Premier League title is boring, I’d have to disagree. Having a billionaire purchase your team and pay its way to the top is boring.

Huskies can’t complete come back, fall to Quinnipiac 5-4

The UConn softball team dropped another one-run game to Quinnipiac on Wednesday, coming out on the wrong end of a 5-4 decision. The Huskies pounded out 10 hits, but their rally fell just short.

Senior righty Lauren Duggan (10-13) got the start for the Huskies, going 6.1 innings, surrendering seven hits, all five runs and striking out six. Quinnipiac struck in the second inning, taking a 2-0 lead on a home run from pitcher Sydney Robey and an RBI double by Molly Jarrett.

UConn responded in the fourth with two runs of their own. With runners on second and third, Dominique Pinto singled to second base. With one runner already in, Quinnipiac threw the ball away, allowing a second UConn run to score.

Quinnipiac would retake the lead in the fifth, scoring two on a wild pitch and a groundout to second. UConn got one run back in the bottom half of the inning, but ultimately missed a golden opportunity to take the lead. After an RBI single by sophomore Taylor Townsend, the Huskies loaded the bases with just one out. However, two ground balls ended UConn’s threat.

After two hits and one run in the top of the seventh, head coach Jen McIntyre brought in freshman Chelsea Eckert to finish the game for UConn.

“At that point, I thought that with our matchups, that Chelsea could come in and close the door, which she did,” said McIntyre.

Emily O’Donnell cut the deficit to one in the seventh, knocking in Townsend with a double to right, but the Huskies could muster no more. Despite ten hits, including a three-hit performance by Townsend, the Huskies could not bring across the tying run.

“I’m never happy unless he have one more run than the other team. I thought that they swung the bats pretty well,” said McIntyre, “but it’s just a matter of coming through, getting runners in scoring position and somebody coming up with a big hit. It’s a matter of timely hitting.”

McIntyre acknowledged that it was not the team’s first close loss of the season. The loss was UConn’s 17th one-run game of the season, and their 11th one-run loss.

“They’re right there. It’s a funny game. It’s a matter of timely hits and getting all three parts – pitching, offense, and defense – to click together.”

UConn (17-31) is back in action at home on Thursday against UMass. The Minutewomen (15-24) have struggled on the road this season, and UConn will look to notch one more win before heading into their final conference series this weekend against Tulsa. First pitch at Burrill Family Field is scheduled for 4:00 p.m.

USG Holds Final Meeting and Commends

The Undergraduate Student Government of gathered Wednesday night for its final meeting of the 2014-2015 year as well as the first of the 2015-2016 year. Over the course of four hours and two sessions, USG reported on the past academic year, inaugurated new officers and outlined hopes for the next year.

Shortly after commencement, Sen. Broccolo presided over the inauguration of new members of the judiciary committee. Four new members were confirmed without debate or questions from the floor.

President Mark Sargent gave a speech and expressed pride at USG’s high number of female senators, its diverse executive, strong representation by the cultural centers, active freshmen members and improved social media presence.

He further praised USG’s Wall Street Journal program to start in the fall, the Academic Affairs Committee’s open source textbook program and their assurance that “our input toward the Master Plan was valid.”

Sargent also expressed regret at USG’s failure to form a Greek Life committee, expand dining hall hours or hold monthly addresses on Fairfield Way. He ended his speech praising president-elect Rachel Convoy and noted that she was “the first woman president in ten years.”

Vice President Romanna Romaniv expressed her pride over senators’ office hours and drew parallels between contemporary social movements and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, particularly in USG’s collaboration with Students for a Sensible Drug Policy and student demonstrations on campus.

This was followed by reports by the comptroller, chief of staff, chief justice and the chairpersons of the individual committees. Notable mentions included further references to the open source textbook program and efforts to revive GUARD Dogs.

USG then spent approximately forty minutes giving each of the outgoing members lighthearted commendations, heartfelt goodbyes and standing ovations. The commendations were passed unanimously.

Following a short recess, the incoming Undergraduate Student Government of 2015-2016 gathered to swear in its newly elected and reelected members, including President Rachel Conboy and Vice President Adam Kuegler.

USG approved Bennett Cognado as Internal Affairs Chairperson and Haddiyyah Ali as an ex-officio (of the African American Cultural Center) member of the senate without incident.

For the position of Senate Speaker, Sen. Colin Ng was ultimately elected over Sen. Timothy Lim following a period of debate. Ng expressed desire to “cultivate an environment for senate to prevail and for senators to get involved” while Lim focused his speech a plan to “craft a comprehensive student diversity course for senators.

For the loosely defined office of Parliamentarian, Sen. Cassandra Pugliese was elected over two other candidates following a longer period of debate. Pugliese discussed her desire to promote education among the senate.

Six chairpersons of committees were then appointed without opposition.

Vice President Kuegler’s report followed, in which he optimistically said that USG is about “giving the students voice and a way to change things.”

The meeting concluded after a few more reports and announcements on initiation for the incoming members of USG.

 

 

 

Scott Carroll: One for the Road

I’d like to give a quick shout out to all my first time readers and hit them with some bad news. Your new, favorite weekly column is coming to an end. Yes, this is the last time my name will ever have the privilege of being printed in The Daily Campus.

How did we get here?

I began my illustrious career at The Daily Campus as the beat writer for the volleyball team. I would soon rise to obscurity as the paper’s foremost authority on college volleyball. Despite never learning most of the rules and strategy, it was a pleasure to cover the team for three years. There is no greater thrill than covering an afternoon game after a long Friday night, and listening to a girl from Seton Hall celebrate every point like “American Idol” just told her she was, “going to Hollywood.” Despite the headaches, it was a great experience to write with such esteemed colleagues as Tim Fontenault, Ryan Tolmich and Elan DeCarlo.

I was also able to lock down the NCAA football column during my first meeting sophomore year. The only thing more challenging than coming up with unique takes on college football for three years was actually remembering I had a column due. Special thanks to Mike Corasaniti for all the phone calls through the years that started with, “Do you know you have a column due?”

While I enjoyed writing my NCAA football column and covering the volleyball team, my goal from the start was to have my own weekly column. Not only did I receive my own weekly column, I also received some accolades for it. Yes, this past Friday my column was selected as “DC ‘Best Column’”. I would like to thank all my coworkers who voted for me and anyone who ever read this column.

I don’t think the recognition would have been possible without some great editors who believed there was a place for me in the sports department. I’d like to thank Tyler Morrissey for always being patient, encouraging and taking my kids to their first baseball game like we agreed upon. I want to thank Matt Stypulkoski and Tim for believing in me and giving me opportunity after opportunity. Lastly, I wanted to thank Matt Zampini for a tremendous final semester at The Daily Campus. The underclassmen are lucky to have you for one more year.

When I wasn’t writing for The Daily Campus, I was out making some of the best friends you could hope for. I’d like to thank everyone who lived in Shippee freshmen year from Mashed Potato Chris to the lunatics who lived on the sixth floor. I’d like to thank all the McManiacs who lived on the third floor of McMahon for adopting me into their family. Shout out to the great group of guys I met on fourth floor Middlesex sophomore year. Shout out to the Hunting Lodge crew and everyone over at Mushroom Haus for some awesome times. Special thanks to my roommates Jay Garrish and Kevin Lawrence for putting up with me for four years. For anyone else who I may have bumped into throughout my time at UConn, hopefully I made you smile and just know it was a blast.

Then there’s my family. I was lucky enough to be brought up by two parents who put their children above anything else and a brother who set a perfect example for me to follow. I’ll see you guys in about a week for graduation. Sorry about your paragraph being the shortest.

I have no idea what the rest of my life is going to bring. I’ve been applying to jobs and searching for suitable bridges to live under, but still no luck. I am actually trying to make this column go as long as possible because I am literally unemployed after I send this to the copy editors. While my employment may be a mystery, one thing is not. I will approach the rest of my life with the same smile most of you have seen for the last four years. If I have made you smile even once at UConn, well, it was all worth it.

Follow Scott Carroll on Twitter @ScottyCTellem

UConn faces Georgetown hoping for first win in Big East Tournament

The members of UConn women’s lacrosse hope that Thursday will be a historic day for the program. UConn will make their third straight appearance in the Big East playoffs when they face the No.2 seed Georgetown Hoyas. A win would not only be the Huskies first ever in the Big East playoffs but also the first victory over Georgetown in program history.

An inconsistent first half doomed the Huskies in the last meeting between the two teams on April 15. A second half rally fell just short and UConn lost 13-12. UConn’s young guns had a great performance in defeat. Freshmen Grace Nolan and Kelsey Catalano combined for five goals.

“We’ve gone over a lot of videos with the team to see where we can make specific improvements,” said Head coach Katie Woods. “I think it starts with the draw. We definitely need to make sure we’re staying in front, stepping out and boxing out. That gives us a valid opportunity to gain possession of the ball.”

Thursday might be the official start of the postseason but UConn has been playing do or die games for the past couple weeks. A monumental comeback against the No.8 Florida Gators on April 18 gave the Huskies control of their own destiny with one game remaining. A week later, UConn punched their ticket to the playoffs with a 14-11 victory over Villanova in Philadelphia.

Despite already playing with high stakes, the playoffs always seem to go to another level. Woods understands how the playoff atmosphere can affect play but if everything goes well she hopes it won’t be much of a factor.

“The hope is that the team will stay relaxed, come out and just get into it a little bit. The fact that we’re at home and we’ll have a home crowd will make it feel hopefully like a normal home game.”

Win or lose on Thursday, what UConn has done this season has opened eyes nationally. Though UConn never broke the top 25 in the IWLCA poll, by the end of the season they were garnering votes.

Numerous players had strong seasons for the Huskies and fruit of their labor were given to them this week. UConn collected four regular season awards. Grace Nolan was given Rookie of the Year after her 24-goal season, Woods and her assistants were given Coaching Staff of the Year and defensive linchpins Shannon Nee and Lauren Kwasnowski were also honored.

Kwasnowski has been the difference between UConn being a great defensive team and a really good one. The defender finished first in the Big East in caused turnovers and ground balls. Nee’s play in net only adds to the defense. Nee finished with the top save percentage in the conference and her goals against average put her in the Top 30 in the nation.

Coach Woods’ mantra has often been that any player at any given time should be able to step up when called upon. With the talent up and down the roster it’s easy to see why she has the confidence she does. Georgetown should have trouble containing UConn’s numerous scoring threats. Combine that with UConn’s stonewall defense and Thursday holds a great chance of UConn advancing to the Championship.

“This team is seasoned. We’ve been in the tournament a few times now,” said Woods. “They understand the excitement of this but they also understand the pressure of it. This team is more prepared than the last two (appearances). Our older players have this experience and even our younger players have the experience of big games.”

The conference semifinal between UConn and Georgetown begins this tonight at 7:00 p.m., at the George R. Sherman Family Sports Complex.

Vinny Siena notches 200th career hit vs. Holy Cross

In the midst of a surprising 8-7 loss to Holy Cross, UConn second baseman Vinny Siena recorded his 200th career hit in the first inning. The Woodbridge, Connecticut native is now one of just 15 Huskies to reach 200 hit mark, and the first to do so since Billy Ferriter and LJ Mazzili both did in 2013.

“It’s great, it’s an honor,” Siena said on reaching 200 hits. “With all the guys who are having success in the big leagues right now and to be able to join that fraternity, it’s nice to get that out of the way.”

The milestone marked yet another achievement in Siena’s extremely productive junior campaign. Siena has bounced back from a sophomore slump where he hit just .231 and slugging a mere .301 to leading the team with a .364 batting average and slugging .519 on the season. Siena also leads the American Athletic Conference with 72 hits and 43 runs batted in, and his emergence has helped transform the UConn lineup into one of the strongest and deepest lineups in the American.

Siena also reached base in 35 consecutive games this season until he went 0-6 against Memphis on April 26. During his 35-game on base streak, Siena posted hitting streaks of 18 and 12 games and led the Huskies to a 23-12 record over the course of his streak.

“I’m definitely more comfortable and more confident [this year],” Siena said after a 9-1 win over Northeastern April 7.”I just worked hard over the winter, over the fall really building my confidence up and every aspect of the game.”

After his first inning single in the loss to Holy Cross, Siena would add two more hits and pair of stolen bases to finish 3-5 at the plate for the day. While the loss certainly hindered the Huskies’ hopes of receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, a strong performance this weekend against conference foe East Carolina and a win against Rhode Island next week could easily negate the upset loss to the Crusaders. With such crucial games ahead, Siena knows that he and the rest of the middle of the order must perform well in order to lead the Huskies to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2013.

“It’s going to take all of us, not just me, not just Bobby, not just Blake and Max,” Siena said. “[We need to] get those big hits with runners in scoring position and lead, be the guys that lead the team to victory offensively and defensively.”