PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Behind a dazzling Opening Day performance from sophomore lefthander Tim Cate, the UConn baseball team knocked off UMass Lowell on Friday at the Mets Spring Training Complex, 5-3.
Cate (Manchester, Conn.) was sensational from the start of his outing, striking out the first five batters that he faced. The Huskies plated their first run of the season in the second, freshman third baseman Conor Moriarty (West Springfield, Mass.) ripped an RBI double down the left field line to plate Tyler Gnesda (Laguna Nigel, Calif.) and give UConn a 1-0 lead.
Transfer Isaac Feldstein (Palo Alto, Calif.) added to the UConn lead in the third inning by shooting a leadoff double into the left centerfield gap. Feldstein advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch a few pitches later making it 2-0 UConn.
Cate retired the first 14 batters that he faced until an error in the fifth inning ended the streak. After going 172 at-bats without a homer in his freshman season, sophomore catcher Zac Susi belted his first career home run to start the bottom of the fifth and extend the lead to 3-0.
In the sixth inning, it was another freshman contributing to the cause. Shortstop Anthony Prato delivered a two-out RBI single to push the lead to four.
On the mound, Cate tied his career-high with 11 strikeouts to begin the seventh and eventually grabbed his 12th strikeout to end the inning. Cate would finish the afternoon pitching 7.1 innings, allowing just two hits, zero earned runs and racking up 13 strikeouts en route to a victory.
A special moment happened in the eighth inning when redshirt senior Ryan Radue came into the ballgame for his first appearance since battling and defeating cancer last season. Radue struck out Steve Passatempo to get out of a threat in the inning.
Susi supplied some insurance in the bottom half of the inning, he drilled his first career triple off the right field fence, plating Prato and giving the Huskies a 5-2 lead.
Junior John Russell came in to close it out in the ninth, notching his first career save. With the victory, UConn captured its first opening day victory since 2012 when Brian Ward ('14) stymied Indiana in the Big East/Big Ten Challenge, 8-0.
UConn returns to action at Tradition Field for a doubleheader against UMass Lowell beginning at 11 a.m.
- After going 172 at-bats in his freshman season without hitting a home run, Zac Susi belted a solo shot in the fifth inning.
- The Huskies collected their first Opening Day victory since 2012 when they defeated Indiana in the Big East/Big Ten Challenge, 8-0.
- Cate tied a career-high with 7.1 innings pitched and set a new career-high with 13 strikeouts
- The Huskies are now 3-0 all-time against the River Hawks dating back to 2015.