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STORRS, CT (March 23) The University of Connecticut baseball team opened its BIG EAST and home schedule on Saturday with a pair of wins over Notre Dame at J.O. Christian Field. The Huskies topped the Irish 4-3 in seven innings in the first game and came from five runs back in the second game to win 9-8 in the bottom of the 11th inning.
With its fourth straight win, UConn improved to 7-5-0 overall on the season and 2-0-0 in the BIG EAST. Notre Dame, which dropped its BIG EAST season opener for only the second time in school history, fell to 9-8-0 overall and 0-2-0 in the conference.
Connecticut trailed 8-3 heading into the eighth inning of the second game but rallied with five runs to tie the game. After sophomore David Tokarz (Seymour, CT) grounded out to start the frame, seniors Jon Gorrie (Northboro, MA) and Cy Hess (Oaksdale, CT) got things going with back-to-back singles. Junior Brett Burnham (South Windsor, CT) was then awarded first base after being hit by a pitch, loading the bases for junior Peter Soteropoulos (Peabody, MA). Soteropoulos drew a walk on a full count to bring home a run, and junior Dan Trubia (Tolland, CT) cleared the bases with his first home run of the season, a shot to center field.
The Huskies had chances in both the ninth and tenth innings to plate the winning run, stranding runners on third base in each frame. UConn finally broke the deadlock in the bottom of the 11th on a two-out single by Burnham that scored Tokarz.
Junior right-hander Erik Drown (Ipswich, MA) picked up his first win of the season after coming on to relieve senior Pat Sperone (Sicklerville, NJ). Drown worked four scoreless innings and gave up only two hits while striking out a pair. Sperone, after retiring the first 11 batters he faced, gave up 10 hits and four earned runs in seven innings of work.
In the days first game, junior left-hander Jesse Carlson (Kensington, CT) improved to 4-0 on the season. He also had eight strikeouts in the seven inning, complete-game performance. The Huskies handed Carlson an early lead after Gorrie scored on a double by Hess in the first inning. Soteropoulos then clubbed his third home run of the season over the right-center field fence for a 3-0 advantage.
Notre Dame struck back in the third with a pair of runs and tied the game in the fourth on a double by Matt Bok. UConn picked up the winning run in the fourth on a passed ball that allowed Hess to score from third.
The Huskies improved to 5-8 overall against Notre Dame all-time and became only the fourth team to sweep a doubleheader from the Irish in BIG EAST play. UConn has taken the last three games in the series, including a 19-12 win last season in Notre Dame, IN.
Connecticut will look for the series sweep against Notre Dame on Sunday at J.O Christian Field. The game is scheduled to begin at noon. Game 1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Notre Dame 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 3 7 0
UConn 3 0 0 0 1 0 X 4 4 1
Win: Carlson (4-0)
Loss: Johnson (2-2)
E: UC Burnham.
LOB: ND 8; UC 5.
2B: ND Bok; UC Hess.
HR: UC Soteropoulos.
SH: ND Sanchez, Thaman; UC Burnham.
CS: ND Stanley.
Game 2 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 R H E
Notre Dame 0 0 0 0 5 0 3 0 0 0 0 8 12 4
UConn 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 5 0 0 1 9 8 2
Win: Drown (1-1)
Loss: Gagne (1-2)
E: ND OToole 2, Bushey, Sanchez; UC Tokarz 2.
DP: ND 1.
LOB: ND7; UC 7.
2B: ND Bok, Bushey; UC Gorrie, Mocerino.
HR: ND OToole; UC Trubia, Leonard.
HBP: ND Bok; UC Burnham, Leonard, Tokarz.
SB: UC Soteropoulos.
CS: ND Meyer.
WP: UC Drown.