Feb. 22, 2014
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – Eric Yavarone (North Haven, Conn.) picked up three hits, none bigger than a 10th inning walk-off single, to lead the UConn baseball team past Wichita State by a score of 2-1 on Friday night at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark. The game was UConn’s first in the 2014 Caravelle Resort’s Baseball at the Beach Tournament. With the win, the Huskies improve to 1-3 on the year while the Shockers fall to 4-1.
Yavarone, who went 3-for-5 on the day, was one of three Huskies to post multiple hits in a season-best 13-hit outing for UConn. Jack Sundberg (Mansfield, Conn.) went 3-for-4 from the leadoff spot, while Bryan Daniello (Norwalk, Conn.) was 2-for-5 on the day. In addition to Yavarone, Bobby Melley (Barnstable, Mass.) had a crucial RBI for the Huskies, tying the game in the bottom of the eight with a run-scoring double.
Jordan Tabakman (Pompton Plains, N.J.) got the start on the mound for UConn and was solid in five innings of work, allowing one run on four hits with five strikeouts against three walks. A.J. Ladwig earned the nod for Wichita State and tossed six scoreless innings, scattering six hits and striking out five with one walk. Anthony Kay (Stony Brook, N.Y.) tossed four scoreless innings in relief and was brilliant for the Huskies, picking up seven strikeouts while allowing three hits and a walk to secure his first collegiate win. Overall, the UConn pitching staff totaled 14 strikeouts on the day, a new season-high.
Wichita State jumped on the board early, taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning thanks to an RBI single from Tyler Baker. Max McDowell (North Huntingdon, Pa.) picked up a two-out single in UConn’s half of the inning, but that was all the Huskies could muster in the frame.
In the bottom of the fourth, two-out singles from Yavarone and Daniello put Huskies on the corners, but Ladwig ended the threat with a strikeout. After Tabakman struck out the first two batters in the next half inning, Garrett Bayliff reached on an error and Casey Gillaspie singled to put a pair of runners on. Both moved up after a wild pitch, but Griffin Garabedian (Hamden, Conn.) snared a line drive off the bat of Baker to keep it a one-run game.
Kay (1-0) entered the game for UConn in the seventh and walked the leadoff man before striking out Bayliff, Gillaspie and Baker to retire the side. Aaron LaBrie replaced Ladwig in UConn’s half of the inning, and promptly struck out the first two Huskies he faced in a scoreless first inning of work.
Kay remained on for UConn in the eight, and picked off Micah Green after a leadoff single leading to another scoreless frame. Vinny Siena (Woodbridge, Conn.) opened UConn’s half of the inning with a double down the left field line, and advanced to third on a fly out from McDowell. Melley then tied the game with an RBI double to right field, scoring Siena to make it a 1-1 game. After an intentional walk, LaBrie got Daniello to bounce into a double play and send the game to the ninth knotted at one.
The Shockers got to Kay for a one-out single in the top of the ninth, but the freshman picked up his fourth and fifth strikeouts of the night to end the inning. Yavarone led off the bottom of the ninth against Shocker closer Ray Ashford (0-1) with a single past the shortstop, and moved into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt from Jon Testani (Monroe, Conn.). After Aaron Hill (Groton, Conn.) bounced out to short, Sundberg and Siena drew walks to load the bases for McDowell, who popped out to short and the game went to extra innings.
Kay picked up right where he left off in the ninth to start the 10th, striking out Gillaspie and Baker to begin what would be his fourth scoreless inning of work. Melley drew a leadoff walk in the bottom half of the inning, and senior captain Tom Verdi (Warwick, R.I.) made his first appearance of the year as his pinch runner. Nico Darras (Laguna Beach, Calif.) followed with a single to move Verdi into scoring position, and Daniello then picked up a bunt single to load the bases for Yavarone. The junior punched a single into center field, allowing Verdi to cross the plate and seal UConn’s first win of the year.
Up next, UConn continues play in the Baseball at the Beach Tournament when it takes on George Mason tomorrow. First pitch with the Patriots, who defeated Illinois, 3-0, earlier today, is set for 6 p.m.
- The UConn pitching staff totaled 14 strikeouts on the day, most since equaling that mark in a season-best performance at Villanova on April 13, 2013. The Huskies notched double-digit strikeouts in eight contests in 2013.
- Eric Yavarone’s three-hit game was the fourth of his career and first since April 24, 2013 at Bryant.
- Jack Sundberg went 3-for-4, picking up his first multi-hit game of the season and tying a career-high with three hits. He had just one multi-hit outing in his freshman campaign a year ago, also a 3-for-4 performance at Sam Houston State on March 9, 2013.
- Max Slade (Cheshire, Conn.) came on for the sixth inning and struck out two batters, the first time in his career he has notched multiple strikeouts in a one-inning outing.
- Vinny Siena’s eighth inning-double extended his hitting streak to nine games, dating back to last season. He has also reached safely in 15 consecutive contests.
- Nico Darras has hit safely in each of his three starts for UConn this season.