Thursday at Burrill Family Field, Dominique Pinto sent UConn fans, her coaches and her teammates home happy. Her walk-off two-run homer in extra innings gave the Huskies a 4-2 win over UMass, their 18th win of the year, and snapped a three game losing streak. UConn has been on the wrong end of numerous one-run affairs this season, including a 5-4 loss to Quinnipiac on Wednesday. That only made the moment more special for the sophomore first baseman.
“There’s been so many one-run games that we’ve been heartbroken after, because one play or one hit goes a different way, so it’s definitely a great feeling to come out on top,” she said.
Although she had a walk-off hit last season, Pinto said it was especially fulfilling to hit a walk-off home run. It was her fifth home run of the season.
“It wasn’t my first walk-off hit, I had one last year, but it was my first walk-off home run. This is much more exciting right now,” she said.
Pinto’s opposite-field moonshot squeaked over the outstretched glove of UMass right fielder Taylor Carbone and drove in senior Emily O’Donnell, who singled to lead off the 9th and advanced on a sacrifice bunt from junior Alyson Ambler.
“I didn’t know it was going out right off the bat, but once I saw it keep going up I thought it was probably gone,” Pinto said.
The home run was not her only contribution in the Husky victory. The sophomore reached on an error in a crucial 1st inning, in which UConn scored two runs and set the tone early. She also picked a ball out of the dirt in the 2nd to complete a double play on a low throw from starting pitcher Chelsea Eckert. You probably wouldn’t know it by watching, but Pinto is new to the first base position. She primarily played catcher as a freshman, but has stuck at first base and played in all 49 games so far this season.
“It’s a new position for me this year, but I’ve definitely gotten comfortable and I love it now,” she said. “I had my teammates behind me all the time. It was definitely hard at the beginning and they pulled me through it.”
Pinto has been a power threat in the middle of the UConn lineup all season. She is second on the team in home runs and third in both RBIs and slugging percentage. The Huskies will need her to produce as they round out the regular season against a tough Tulsa team this weekend in Storrs.