UConn baseball outperforms No. 2 Stanford in super regional opener
If UConn baseball proved last weekend in the regional round that they can hang on to power conference players, they took it one step further Friday night with a 13-12 victory over the seeded No. 2 Stanford. The win over the Cardinal marked UConn’s first-ever victory in a Super Regional.
The Huskies’ win featured an offensive explosion with 13 runs on 17 hits, including seven doubles, three home runs and a near total bullpen meltdown. Stanford scored eight runs in the final two innings to nearly tie the game. They had eight homers on the night, their highest schedule since 2004.
For UConn, it was an all-around offensive performance, with every member of the Huskies roster recording a hit in the second inning. Heading into hostile territory, UConn made sure to hit Stanford early and often, dispatching 11 batters at home plate in the second inning where they scored eight runs.
The Huskies received a run in the first inning after a Cardinal error put Casey Dana up second, and Ben Huber took advantage with an RBI brace down the left field line. They picked up where they left off in the next frame, with back-to-back doubles from Korey Morton and TC Simmons to start the inning.
Matt Donlan kicked the power up a notch with a home run to center field, then three straight hits from David Smith, Erik Stock and Casey Dana kept the parade going. Bryan Padilla dispatched Dana with an RBI brace and Morton capped the inning by upping the way he started it by a run, with a towering home run over the trees in left field.
Even with that running support, UConn starter Pat Gallagher was shaky early on. The second gave up a pair of two-run homers late in the second to cut UConn’s lead to 9-5 but thankfully calmed down from there. Gallagher would finish the match with 6 1⁄3 innings pitched and only one earned run given up outside of that second inning, striking out eight and giving up only one walk.
UConn got insurance in the fourth inning with a triple RBI from Simmons and an RBI single from Donlan, then again in the top of the seventh with back-to-back doubles from Zach Bushling and Smith to make it 13-4.
Stanford showed flashes of his signature power throughout the final innings, culminating with a pair of home runs in the bottom of the seventh to bring the regional hosts within seven, 13-6.
The hosts didn’t make it easy for the Huskies in the ninth, tackling six runs low on the frame, giving UConn a good sweat. Star first baseman Carter Graham fired a warning shot in the bottom of the ninth with a two-run homer to make it 13-8 and head coach Jim Penders called his closer Justin Willis. He didn’t have much of an easier time with the powerful Stanford lineup, giving up two more homers to make it 13-12, but eventually got the final to end the game.
UConn baseball will face Stanford again tomorrow night at 7 p.m. with a chance to close them out and qualify for the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska with ace Austin Peterson ready to pitch for the Huskies.