Champions! UConn Claims 2016 American Championship

UConn claimed its first-ever American Athletic Conference crown on Sunday in Clearwater

May 29, 2016

Final Stats |  Photo Gallery 

CLEARWATER, Fla. - For the second time in four seasons, the UConn baseball team hoisted a conference tournament trophy at Bright House Field, topping fifth-seeded Houston, 7-2, on Sunday to secure the 2016 American Athletic Conference tournament championship. The league tournament title marks the program's first since joining The American prior to 2014 and fourth in program history.

The Huskies earn the league's automatic bid to the 2016 NCAA Tournament and will make their 19th-ever appearance in the national event. Connecticut awaits seeding, pairing, and location which will be unveiled during the baseball selection show on Monday, May 30 at 12 p.m. on ESPNU.

UConn returns to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in the last seven years and the first time since 2013. Connecticut is one of 31 teams nationally to earn an automatic berth into the event by winning its conference tournament title.

Husky junior ace Anthony Kay (Stony Brook, N.Y.) took the ball for his 16th start of the season and dazzled in 6.0-plus innings, scattering just six hits and allowing two runs to go along with five strikeouts. The LHP became just the 10th Husky in program to history to win at least nine games in one season, moving to 9-2 overall. Junior closer Patrick Ruotolo (Peabody, Mass.) closed out the final 3.0 innings, picking up his 11th save of the year.

At the dish, senior 1B Bobby Melley (Barnstable, Mass.) led the charge, going 3-for-5 with a two-run home run, while senior SS Bryan Daniello added three hits and finished the tournament with 14 base knocks in five games.

Kay was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player and was joined on the All-Tournament team by Daniello, Melley, Aaron Hill (Groton, Conn.) and John Toppa (Portsmouth, R.I.)

Connecticut went up 2-0 in the top of the third after Melley blasted a two-run shot - his 10th of the season - to plate Aaron Hill (Groton, Conn.), who opened the inning with a single. After a 55-minute lightning delay, UConn added a run to its tally in the fourth after Tyler Gnesda (Laguna Nigel, Calif.) laced a two-out RBI single into left field.

Houston grabbed a run back in the bottom of the fifth when conference Rookie Player of the Year Joe Davis registered a solo shot to left field.

Connecticut answered with a run in the top of the seventh, pushing its advantage to 4-1. Jack Sundberg (Mansfield, Conn.) worked a one-out walk, advanced two bases on a failed pick-off attempt, and scored on an RBI groundout off the bat of Willy Yahn (Sharon, Conn.).

The Huskies added three insurance runs in the top of the ninth to push the advantage to 7-2.

Check back with uconnhuskies.com on Monday afternoon for an update on the Huskies' NCAA Tournament destination. Additionally, fans can keep up with the team during its postseason run by following @UConnBaseball on Twitter.