STORRS, CT (April 23) Behind stellar pitching performances by junior Peter Soteropoulos (Peabody, MA) and senior Mike Tripaldi (Groton, MA) and a little help from its defense, the University of Connecticut baseball team shut out Fairfield 18-0 Tuesday afternoon at J.O. Christian Field.
UConn improved to 20-16-0 overall on the season while Fairfield dropped to 13-23-0. The Huskies improved to 44-12-1 all-time against the Stags and took both meetings this year, the first win coming on April 4 in a 12-10 decision at Fairfield.
The score would not be as close in the second meeting, as the Huskies batted around and jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the second inning. Soteropoulos and junior Dan Trubia (Tolland, CT) started the frame with back-to-back singles, setting the stage for a three-run home run by sophomore Mike Leonard (Vernon, CT) to left field. After two quick outs, UConn rallied to put men on base and then brought them home on RBI singles by senior Cy Hess (Oakdale, CT) and Soteropoulos. A walk to Trubia then loaded the bases, and Leonard and freshman Mike McDonough (Abington, MA) plated runs after being hit by pitches.
The Huskies bid for the shutout faced its greatest challenge in the fourth, when Fairfields Ryan Bittner sent a long drive to the right field fence. Freshman right fielder Tony Mallozzi (Westboro, MA) timed his jump at the fence and reached back to rob Bittner of a home run, a spectacular play that brought the crowd to its feet. Soteropoulos, who allowed only three hits on the day while working six innings and striking out seven, cruised the rest of the way and improved to 2-1 on the season.
UConn added insurance runs in every inning after the third, with McDonough leading the way with a career-best six RBI in the game. The freshman outfielder went 3-for-4 on the day with two doubles and solo home run down the left field line, his fourth of the season. Leonard finished 4-for-5 with four RBI and a double to go along with his homer. Hess, classmate Jon Gorrie (Northboro, MA), and junior Brett Burnham (South Windsor, CT) each had three hits and a pair of RBI for the game. Hess solo home run to lead off the fifth was him team-leading eighth of the year.
Tripaldi pitched the last three innings and allowed four hits while striking out three. The UConn pitching staff, which lowered its ERA to 5.16, has allowed only one run over the last 17 innings.
Hess and Soteropoulos also both extended their hitting streaks has now hit safely in 21 straight games while Soteropoulos has put together a 16-game streak. Soteropoulos had a streak of 23 games earlier this season, the longest UConn hitting streak in recent memory.
Connecticut will next face Hartford on Wednesday, April 24 at J.O. Christian Field. The game is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Fairfield 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7 1
UConn 0 8 0 2 1 4 1 2 X 18 21 2
Win: Soteropoulos (2-1).
Loss: Gorra (1-6).
E: FU Easton; UC Trubia, Robinson.
DP: UC 1.
LOB: FU 9; UC 11.
2B: FU Novalis; UC Burnham 2, Leonard, McDonough 2, Maloney.
HR: UC Hess, Leonard, McDonough.
HBP: UC Burnham, Trubia, Leonard, McDonough 2.
SB: UC Gorrie, Hess, Soteropoulos, Mallozzi.
CS: UC Burnham.
Batteries: FU Paul Gorra (3), Juan Carlos Parets (3), Matt Coolidge (2) and Sean Easton; UC Peter Soteropoulos (6), Mike Tripaldi (3) and Mike Leonard.