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Vanderbilt tops UConn at Music City Challenge


NASHVILLE, TN (March 1) - The University of Connecticut baseball team struck first, but it was Vanderbilt who hit hardest on Friday afternoon as the Commodores downed the Huskies, 11-5, at Hawkins Field in the first game of the Music City Challenge.

After three scoreless innings, UConn (0-4-0) got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth after a single by senior Cy Hess (Oakdale, CT) gave the Huskies a leadoff runner. After stealing second, Hess scored on a double to right-center field by junior Peter Soteropoulos (Peabody, MA). Connecticut would do no more damage in the inning, stranding Soteropoulos on second base.

Vanderbilt (6-2-0) promptly answered back in the bottom half of the frame. Designated hitter Cesar Nicolas led off the inning with a home run to left field to tie the game at 1-1, and Sean Luellwitz followed with a double to left-center. UConn right-hander Patrick Sperone (Sicklerville, NJ) then got the next two batters to strike out swinging before giving up a double to Worth Scott. The double was the first of three consecutive two-baggers for the Commodores, who plated four runs before third out was made. Sperone, who worked five innings on the day, gave up three earned runs on 10 hits while striking out four.

Connecticut’s bats were silent until the eighth inning, when sophomore shortstop Mike Mocerino (Northboro, MA) started the frame with a double to left-center field. Mocerino, who advanced to third on a ground out by Hess, scored on a single by junior transfer Brett Burnham (South Windsor, CT). Soteropoulos then picked up his second RBI of the day with a triple to left-center field. He finished 2-for-3 on the day with two RBI and a walk.

After closing the gap to 5-3, UConn couldn’t hold on in the bottom of the eighth. Freshman pitcher Keith Potvin (Manchester, NH), making the first appearance of his career, surrendered six runs on six hits in the stanza. The duo of Nicolas and Scott each had two RBI in the inning, the former finishing 2-for-5 five with three RBI while the latter went 3-for-5 with four RBI.

Vanderbilt pitcher Jeff Little picked up his second win of the season. He worked 7.2 innings and gave up three runs on six hits while striking out seven UConn batters. Sperone fell to 0-2 on the season.

The Huskies, still seeking their first win of the season, will take on Lipscomb and Belmont this weekend as part of the Music City Challenge. UConn faces Lipscomb on Saturday at 3 p.m. and Belmont on Sunday at 2 p.m.

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E UConn 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 2 5 8 0 Vanderbilt 0 0 0 4 1 0 0 6 X 11 17 0

Win: Little (2-1).
Loss: Sperone (0-2)
Save: None

WP: UC Potvin.
BK: UC Barton; VU Little; VU Shapiro 2
HBP: by VU Little (UC Gorrie); by UC Sperone (VU Nonemaker); by UC Sperone (VU Kaye); by VU Shapiro (UC Gorrie).
2B: UC Soteropoulos; UC Leonard; UC Robinson; UC Mocerino; VU Nonemaker; VU Mansolino; VU Nicolas; VU Luellwitz; VU Kaye; VU W. Scott 2; VU Douill; VU Vanderhoff 2.
3B: UC Soteropoulos.
HR: VU Nicolas.
SB: UC Mallozzi; UC Hess.
CS: UC Gorrie; VU Prothro.
SH: VU Nonemaker.