LYNCHBURG, Va. - After falling behind 5-0 through three innings, the UConn baseball team scored seven unanswered runs to claim a dramatic 7-5 victory in 11 innings over Liberty on Saturday in Lynchburg, Va. With the victory, UConn evened the weekend series and improved to 5-3 overall, while Liberty drops to 6-5.
The win marked the program's first extra-inning win since topped UCF, 4-3, in 11 innings at the 2015 American Athletic Conference Championship in Clearwater, Fla.
At the dish, senior SS Bryan Daniello (Norwalk, Conn.) paced the offense with a 3-for-5 afternoon, collecting four RBIs and scoring a run, while senior OF Joe DeRoche-Duffin (Santa Ana, Calif.) went 2-for-3 with three runs scored and a ninth-inning game-tying solo homer.
Sophomore RHP Wills Montgomerie (1-0) made the start but failed to get out of the second inning, allowing three runs in 1.1 inning pitched. The Husky bullpen went 9.2 innings, surrendering just five hits and two earned runs, highlighted be a 4.2 scoreless inning effort from freshman Tim Cate (Manchester, Conn.), who made his collegiate debut in the win. Freshman RHP Randy Polonia earned his second save of the season, striking out the side in the bottom of the 11th.
For the first time this season, a Husky opponent scored first when the Flames jumped out to a 2-0 edge, taking advantage of a bases-loaded wild pitch and hit-by-pitch. Liberty added a run in the third to push its lead to 3-0 following an RBI double off the bat of Nick Walker.
After the Flames extended the lead to 5-0, UConn threatened in the top of the fourth, loading the bases with one down but Mitchell posted a strikeout and groundout to erase the threat.
Connecticut broke onto the scoreboard in the sixth after DeRoche-Duffin opened the frame with a double to center and came around to score on a wild pitch.
Daniello pulled the Huskies to within two in the seventh when he delivered a two-run triple to plate DeRoche-Duffin and Bobby Melley (Barnstable, Mass.). Next up, freshman OF John Toppa (Portsmouth, R.I.) sent an RBI single into centerfield, scoring Daniello and cutting the deficit to just one.
After DeRoche-Duffin lifted a solo shot to left center in the ninth to force extra innings, Daniello gave the Huskies their first lead of the afternoon with a two-out, two-run single with the bases loaded in the 11th.
The two teams will complete the three-game set on Sunday with a 1 p.m. first pitch.