May 13, 2014
NORWICH, Conn. - Behind a complete game shutout from Brian Ward, the UConn baseball team took a 7-0 victory over Rhode Island in the first game of a doubleheader, before dropping a 12-9 thriller in game two on Tuesday afternoon at Dodd Stadium. The Huskies move to 24-28 on the year, while the Rams are now 12-38 in 2014.
Ward's masterful performance in game one was supported by seven runs in the first three innings, as the Huskies took an early lead and never looked back. The second game was a back-and-forth affair that saw the Huskies take the lead thanks to a pair of hit batsmen with the bases loaded. UConn had Rhody down to its final strike four times in the ninth inning, but the Rams responded each time to tie the gane before going ahead in the 13th.
Ward (Milford, Conn.) pitched brilliantly in his ninth start of the season, picking up his second complete game in as many starts. The senior lefty allowed just three hits and four walks in his 9.0 innings of work and also cracked into the top-10 in program history with 226.0 career innings pitched. Ben Wessel earned the nod for the Rams and was roughed up, allowing seven runs on 10 hits with four walks and no strikeouts in 5.0 innings of work.
Bryan Daniello (Norwalk, Conn.) led a balanced attack at the dish, finishing the game with two hits in four at-bats and scoring a pair of runs while driving in two. Max McDowell (North Huntingdon, Pa.) was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and Bobby Melley (Barnstable, Mass.) and Nico Darras(Laguna Beach, Calif.) each had a hit and an RBI.
UConn put the first runs on the board, scoring twice in the home half of the second inning. After opening the inning with a single and advancing to second on his third stolen base of the season, McDowell came around to score when Daniello slapped a single up the middle. After a pair of walks loaded the bases, Wessel was called for a balk as the Huskies extended their lead to 2-0.
The Huskies exploded for five runs on five straight hits in the third innings, highlighted by RBI extra-base knocks from Melley, McDowell and Daniello.
Ward was stellar in the middle innings, retiring 12 of 14 batters from the third to the seventh and notching a pair of strikeouts during the stretch.
The senior hurler worked around a jam in the top of the ninth, inducing a line drive double play and capping off the outing with a ground out to third base after 119 pitches.
Freshman righty Andrew Zapata took the ball in game two and finished his outing after 6.0 innings with four runs and seven hits allowed. Tyler Bowditch got the nod for the Rams and failed to get out of the fifth inning, surrendering four runs on five hits while allowing two walks.
The teams each traded a run in the first inning, highlighted by Melley's RBI groundout. URI scored the next three runs of the game, adding a single run in the second and adding two runs on two hits in the third inning.
Connecticut responded with a three-run fifth inning to tie the game at four. After a groundout opened the inning, the Huskies strung together three consecutive hits to chase Bowditch from the game. With the bases loaded and two down, McDowell delivered a opposite field base hit to plate two more Huskies and knot up the game.
UConn took the lead for the first time in home half of the sixth inning, scratching across four more runs with just one hit. After the Huskies loaded the bases with one down, Tom Verdi (Warwick, R.I.) and Blake Davey (Newport Beach, Calif.) each recorded RBI hit-by-pitches and Melley picked up an RBI with a ground out to first base.
After the Rams drew closer with two runs in the top of the seventh, UConn picked up an insurance run when Jack Sundberg (Mansfield, Conn.) shot a single into right field to bring around Jon Testani (Monroe, Conn.) and push the score to 9-6.
Patrick Ruotolo (Peabody, Mass.) came on in the seventh inning and nearly finished the game off before running into trouble with two outs in the ninth. A walk and a pair of singles cut the UConn lead to 9-7 and Devin Over (Windsor, Conn.) entered with two on and two down. An RBI single from Mike Sherburne made it a one-run game and URI tied up the game when TJ Lynch sent a bounding ball to second that was unable to be fielded cleanly.
Rhode Island broke the tie in the 13th, loading the bases with no one out, courtesy of two hit-by-pitches and an error. After Max Slade (Cheshire, Conn.) got two quick outs, Martin Taveras cleared the bases with a double down the left field line to give the Rams a 12-9 lead they would not relent.
The Huskies begin their final regular season series on Thursday, May 15 when they host the UCF Knights at J.O. Christian Field at 3 p.m. in the first of a three game set.
- Ward became the first Husky pitcher to throw complete games in two consecutive starts since Anthony Marzi threw back-to-back CGs on May 5 and 12 of 2011.
- Ward moved into ninth place on UConn's all-time innings pitched list with 226.0.
- Tom Verdi has now reached base safely in 15 consecutive games and has hit in 13 of those contests while amassing a .444 OBP and eight steals over the stretch.
- UConn is now 4-6 in extra-innings games this season.
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