GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Playing in its first NCAA Regional since 2013, the UConn baseball team scored seven runs in the second inning and never looked back, topping second-seeded Georgia Tech, 7-6, on Friday afternoon in front of 1,626 fans at McKethan Stadium in the first game of the Gainesville Regional. With the win, Connecticut moves to 38-23 overall, while Tech falls to 36-24 with the setback.
With the victory, Connecticut advances to the winner's bracket of the regional and will play the victor of Friday evening's Florida/Bethune-Cookman match-up on Saturday, June 4 at 6 p.m. on ESPN3 with radio coverage on WHUS.org, 91.7 FM. The Yellow Jackets move into an elimination tilt scheduled to begin at noon on Saturday.
The win marks the program's first NCAA Tournament victory since 2013 and the 29th in school history. Additionally, 13th-year head coach Jim Penders moves to 7-7 all-time in NCAA Tournament action.
Connecticut picks up its second-ever victory over Georgia Tech after claiming an 11-5 win over the Yellow Jackets on March 11, 2000 and reaches the 38-win plateau for the first time since 2011 (45).
Making his 13th start of the season, Cate pitched into the seventh, allowing just two runs on three hits with six strikeouts in 6.0 innings of work. With six punch-outs, Cate became just the sixth Husky hurler to reach the 100-strikeout plateau in one season (101) and improved his record to 5-1. Junior closer Patrick Ruotolo (Peabody, Mass.) moved into a tie for second all-time in single-season program history with his 12th save of the year. S
Sophomore 3B Willy Yahn (Sharon, Conn.) picked up his fourth three-hit game of the season, going 3-for-5 with a pair of RBIs, while senior OF Joe DeRoche-Duffin (Santa Ana, Calif.) collected two hits in four at-bats, scoring a run and picking up an RBI.
Connecticut opened the scoring with a seven-run second inning, chasing Georgia Tech starter Zac Ryan from the game after just 1.2 innings of work. Tyler Gnesda (Laguna Nigel, Calif.), who was one of 11 Connecticut batters to step into the box in the frame, put the Huskies up 2-0 with a bases-loaded two-run single into left followed by RBI base knocks off the bats of Hill, Yahn, Bobby Melley (Barnstable, Mass.), and DeRoche-Duffin. In total, the Huskies registered seven hits in the inning, including four doubles.
Georgia Tech scratched across a run in the sixth and tacked on another in the seventh before redshirt-freshman CJ Dandeneau (North Smithfield, R.I.) worked out of further trouble with an inning-ending strikeout.
The Jacket cut the Husky lead to 7-6 in the ninth but Ruotolo escaped the jam, ending with a pop-up to first base.
Fans can keep up with the Huskies during their NCAA Tournament run by following @UConnBaseball on Twitter and by using the hashtag #HookC.