May 22, 2013
Editor’s Note: Chris Jones is the radio voice of UConn baseball on WHUS-91.7 FM. He wrote this story after calling the game on Wednesday.
By Chris Jones
The University of Connecticut baseball team displayed one of the gutsiest and most complete performances of the 2013 season in a 3-2 victory in 12 innings over number-one seeded Louisville in the first round of the BIG EAST Championship on Wednesday night. The game contained clutch hitting, a stellar pitching performance and resilient effort from the Huskies.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the guys and how they performed tonight,” said UConn head coach Jim Penders. “You won’t believe me when I say this but even if we lost this game I would have been just as proud as I am right now.”
“I just wanted to fight,” said Penders. “Unfortunately I went a little bit over the line but I wanted to fight, we can only make the NCAAs if we win this thing and I want to fight to the very end.”
Second-year assistant coaches Josh MacDonald and Jeff Hourigan coached the team through the final innings after Penders was gone.
“They knew exactly what we wanted to do those final innings and I don’t worry about handing things off to those guys,” said Penders. “They do a fantastic job and they helped us win tonight as they do every time out.”
The clutch moment in the game came in the top of the 12th inning when redshirt Billy Ferriter came to the plate against All-BIG EAST First Team reliever Nick Burdi of Louisville. Ferriter, as he has done throughout his UConn career, delivered for the Huskies. Ferriter drove a 3-1 pitch into centerfield bringing in sophomore Eric Yavarone to give UConn the 3-2 lead.
“I was looking fastball 3-1 and just jumped on it and fortunately was able to pick up a base hit,” said Ferriter. “We showed a lot of fight tonight and were able to pick up a big win but we still have work to do in order to win a championship.”
UConn would not have had a chance at winning the game in extra innings if not for the pitching performance from sophomore Carson Cross. His gutsy start was one of his best this season. Cross worked into the tenth inning and exited after Zak Wasserman lead off the inning with a single. The base hit snapped an impressive streak of 16-straight Cardinals retired dating back to the fourth inning. Cross gave up two runs in the first inning but responded with 8 scoreless innings.
Cross was very confident that the Huskies were going to win. “We knew we weren’t going to lose this game,” said Cross. “I just wanted to do my job and make sure that I kept throwing zeros and give us a chance to win the ballgame.”
The Huskies displayed one of their best small ball games with three bunts for base hits and three sacrifice bunts. Yavarone lead off the 12th inning with a bunt for a base hit and moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Stanley Paul which eventually led to the Ferriter game winning single.
The Huskies still have work to be done as they have to win the BIG EAST tournament to continue their season. Penders says the Huskies have to keep the same mentality as they continue on in the tournament.
“We have nothing to lose, we can only make the NCAA Tournament if we win this tournament, let’s play loose and keep up the intensity and focus that we showed tonight.” said Penders.