STORRS, Conn. -- The UConn baseball team battled back from a ninth-inning deficit to force extras, but ultimately fell in a rubber match to East Carolina by a score of 4-3 on Sunday afternoon at J.O. Christian Field. The 10th-inning loss drops the Huskies to 25-15 on the year and 6-6 in The American, while the Pirates improve to 24-16 and are also 6-6 in league action.
The Huskies trailed 3-1 with one away in the bottom of the ninth before Vinny Siena (Woodbridge, Conn.) and Bobby Melley (Barnstable, Mass.) came up with clutch RBIs to tie the contest. The Pirates battled back ahead with a sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th to re-claim the lead and held it.
Jack Sundberg (Mansfield, Conn.) went 2-for-5 at the dish with a run and an RBI, while Aaron Hill (Groton, Conn.) and Max McDowell (North Huntingdon, Pa.) also had two-hit games for the Huskies. Hill also added a stolen base and a walk in a spot start.
On the mound, Jordan Tabakman (Pompton Plains, N.J.) took the ball for UConn and was charged with three runs in 6.1 innings, allowing six hits with four walks and four strikeouts. Reid Love opposed him for ECU and also went six and a third, surrendering a run on six hits with two walks and a career-high eight strikeouts.
Both pitchers pitched well through the early portion of the contest, stranding seven baserunners apiece to keep the game scoreless through four innings. East Carolina finally broke through in the top of the fifth, punching a two-out RBI single through the right side to take a 1-0 advantage.
Tabakman was relieved after loading the bases in the top of the seventh, and the Pirates tacked on two more runs with a wild pitch and a delayed steal of home before Nico Darras (Laguna Beach, Calif.) ended the inning.
UConn got on the board in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases before Sundberg drove in a run on a ground ball that was booted by the ECU shortstop. The Huskies threatened for more in the frame after chasing Love, but Joe Ingle stranded the bases loaded with a strikeout and a fly out to keep it a 3-1 game.
Darras fired 1-2-3 innings in both the eighth and ninth innings, setting the table for the Huskies to tie the contest in the ninth. A pinch-hit one-out single for Joe DeRoche-Duffin (Santa Ana, Calif.) and a Sundberg double set the table for an RBI hit from Siena that cut the lead to one. The next batter, Melley lofted a sacrifice fly and tied the contest at 3-3. UConn appeared to win it two batters later when McDowell punched a single through the right side, but Siena was called out on a bang-bang play at the plate to send the contest to extras.
The Pirates jumped back ahead in the top of the 10th, capitalizing on a leadoff walk and a base hit before a sacrifice fly made it a 4-3 game. Jacob Wolfe entered for ECU in the bottom of the frame and retired all three Huskies he faced to lock down the save.
Up next, the Huskies continue their nine-game homestand with two regional contests at home against Massachusetts and UMass Lowell. First up are the Minutemen on Tuesday at 3 p.m.
UConn is now 5-26 all-time against East Carolina, with all but the three contests this weekend coming between 1979-89.
Aaron Hill has multi-hit games in his last four starts
Vinny Siena has reached base safely in 31-straight contests