LOWELL, Mass. - Redshirt-freshman LHP Jack Riley (West Boylston, Mass.) secured a win in his first collegiate start as the UConn baseball team topped UMass Lowell, 4-2, on Wednesday night at LeLacheur Park. With the win, Connecticut jumps to 20-16 overall, while the River Hawks fall to 16-17.
For the second-straight contest, a Husky hurler made his first collegiate start on the bump. Riley (2-0) grabbed his second career win after a 5.0 inning, one-run effort that included a career-best five strikeouts. Junior closer Pat Ruotolo (Peabody, Mass.) picked up a two-inning save, allowing just one baserunner with three punch-outs.
Senior slugger Bobby Melley (Barnstable, Mass.) turned in another excellent showing at the plate, finishing 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI, while junior DH Tyler Gnesda (Laguna Nigel, Calif.) collected two hits in three at-bats and drove in a run. Sophomore 3B Willy Yahn (Sharon, Conn.) extended his hitting streak to a team-best 12 games with a 1-for-4 effort at the dish.
After the River Hawks jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the home half of the fourth, Connecticut answered with a three-run inning in the fifth. Gnesda opened the frame with a single to left, advanced to second on a balk, and came around to score on an RBI single off the bat of Toppa. Later in the inning, Connecticut took a 2-1 lead when Toppa scored on a throwing error by the centerfielder and added a run after Melley notched an RBI single to left.
The River Hawks cut into the two-run Connecticut lead in the seventh but Devin Over (Windsor, Conn.) limited the damage with an inning-ending strikeout. In the eighth, Gnesda gave the Huskies some breathing room, driving in his 21st run of the season with a two-out single.
Connecticut resumes American Athletic Conference play on Friday, April 22 when it begins a three-game series at East Carolina. A full preview will be available on uconnhuskies.com on Thursday.