Updated American Tournament Bracket
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Freshman LHP Tim Cate allowed just four hits and one run in a career-best 7.1 innings of work, while the Husky offense pounded out 17 hits as the UConn baseball team cruised to a 9-1 win over seventh-seeded USF on Thursday at Bright House Field in the winner's bracket of the American Athletic Conference tournament. With its season-best 11th-straight victory, Connecticut improves to 35-22, while USF falls to 24-32.
UConn earns an off-day in the winner's bracket and will face the winner of Friday's Memphis/USF elimination game on Saturday, May 27 at 1 p.m. in the semifinals of the tournament. An updated tournament bracket has been posted above.
Connecticut, which advances to its seventh conference tournament semifinal in the last eight seasons, improves to 25-15 in league tournament action under 13th-year head coach Jim Penders and moves its 2016 neutral-site record to an unblemished 6-0.
Cate racked up nine strikeouts and scattered just four hits in 7.1 innings of work, securing his fourth career victory. Freshman Randy Polonia (Stamford, Conn.) recorded three strikeouts in the ninth to close out the victory.
Eight different Huskies recorded hits at the dish, paced by Joe DeRoche-Duffin's (Santa Ana, Calif.) 4-for-6 showing. Senior Bryan Daniello (Norwalk, Conn.) finished 3-for-4 with a run scored four RBIs, while junior 2B Aaron Hill (Groton, Conn.) scored a pair of runs and reached four times in the victory.
Connecticut, which owns a 25-9 record when scoring first, jumped ahead, 1-0, in the second inning. Freshman OF John Toppa (Portsmouth, R.I.) collected his eighth hit in his last 13 at-bats to open the frame, moved to second on his seventh steal of the season before scoring after Eveld uncorked back-to-back wild pitches.
USF answered half an inning later, knotting the game up a 1-1 via a solo shot off the bat of Joe Genord.
The Huskies surged ahead in the fifth, scoring three times on two hits. Melley began the frame with a walk and moved to third on a double down the line by DeRoche-Duffin. Next up, Daniello roped a two-run double down the right field line and came around to score two batters later on an RBI groundout from Zac Susi (Southington, Conn.).
The Huskies extended their lead to 7-1 in the sixth, scoring three runs for the second-straight inning. After a Melley RBI single, DeRoche-Duffin ripped his second double of the day down the line in left, plating Jack Sundberg (Mansfield, Conn.), before Daniello picked up his third RBI of the day with a sac fly to center.
To keep up with the Huskies during the postseason, follow @UConnBaseball on Twitter and use the hashtag #HookC.