ORLANDO, Fla. - A Tyler Gnesda solo home run in the eighth inning lifted UConn to a 6-5 win on Saturday afternoon against the UCF Knights.
The Huskies (22-15, 7-4) offense jumped out to a great start with five runs on seven hits in the first three innings with a disciplined approach against starter Juan Pimentel. The Huskies worked the right-hander into deep counts and converted with four two-out RBIs.
UConn scored first in the opening frame on an RBI two-out single from outfielder Isaac Feldstein to make it 1-0.
The Huskies tacked on with the bottom of their order in the second. Gnesda (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) led off the frame with a base hit to right and advanced to third on a Moriarty double off the left field fence.
Aaron Hill, in his first start since March 16, lifted a sac fly to right to bring in Gnesda from third. Keith Krueger quickly followed with an RBI infield single that he legged out to extend to lead to 3-0.
Chris Winkel added on in the third with an opposite field two-out, two-run double off the base of the left center field fence to make it 5-0.
Starter Wills Montgomerie (Lakeville, Conn.) cruised through his first three innings of work, throwing just 30 pitched, he recorded five strikeouts and retired all nine batters that he faced.
UCF battled back to score four runs in fourth and one in the sixth to even the score at 5-5.
UConn battled back with another great outing from the Huskies bullpen. Trevor Holmes registered the final two outs of the sixth to keep it a tie ballgame.
Dan Rajkowski (New Canaan, Conn.) pitched a scoreless seventh inning. The right-hander has now notched six-straight outings without allowing an earned run over the course of 7.1 innings.
Gnesda turned on a first pitch fastball from Jason Bahr in the eighth and drove a no-doubt solo shot over the left field fence to give the Huskies the lead back.
John Russell came in and recorded a six-out save to secure the victory and pick up his conference-leading 11th save of the year. Russell picked up three strikeouts including a punch out of Rylan Thomas to end the ballgame with the tying run at second base in the ninth.
The Huskies force a rubber game against UCF on Sunday, April 22 at 11 a.m.
- Dan Rajkowski grabbed his first career win with a scoreless seventh inning on Saturday.
- The UConn bullpen has thrown 8.1 scoreless innings this series against UCF
- Aaron Hill made his first start since March 16 at BYU, going 0-3 with a sac fly
- The Huskies are now 7-6 in one-run games this season
- UConn is 8-2 when Wills Montgomerie starts