The UConn Huskies rallied late to send the game to extra innings and then pushed two runs across in the 11thinning for a 7-5 victory over the Liberty Flames, Saturday afternoon at Liberty Baseball Stadium.
Trailing 5-0 after three innings, UConn scored one in the sixth and three more in the seventh before tying the contest in the ninth on a solo home run by right fielder Joe DeRoache-Duffin. A two-out, two-run single by Huskies shortstop Bryan Daniello in the 11th gave UConn its first lead of the afternoon and what proved to be the final score of 7-5.
Liberty third baseman Andrew Kowalo had two triples, drove in two runs and scored a run in the contest. Center fielder D.J. Artis also collected two hits. He had a RBI and scored a run for the Flames.
Liberty falls to 6-5 on the season. UConn improves to 5-3. The Huskies’ win evens the three-game non-conference series at 1-1. The Flames won the opening contest, 8-5, Friday.
Liberty jumped out to a 2-0 advantage in the bottom of the first. Designated hitter Nick Walker drew a one-out walk and advanced to second on a single by right fielder Will Shepherd. After shortstop Dalton Britt walked to load the bases, Walker scored on a wild pitch for a 1-0 edge. Two batters later, first baseman Sammy Taormina walked to once again fill the bases. Kowalo was then hit by a pitch to force in a run and give the Flames a 2-0 lead.
Liberty added to its advantage with a run in the second. Artis beat out an infield single and scored on a one-out double by Walker, lengthening the Flames’ lead to 3-0.
In the third inning, Liberty plated two more runs to extend its advantage. Taormina opened the home half of the frame with a single to right field. Kowalo followed with a triple into the left-center field gap to score Taormina and later, came home on a one-out single by Artis for a 5-0 lead.
After Liberty starter Evan Mitchell held UConn scoreless through the first five innings, the Huskies broke through with a run in the sixth against the Flames bullpen. The Huskies loaded the bases with one out and later, scored on a two-out wild pitch to make it, 5-1 Liberty.
In the sixth, UConn whittled its deficit to one with three runs. With one out, first baseman Bobby Melley walked and Duffin was hit by a pitch. Daniello followed with a triple to plate both runners to cut the Flames’ advantage to 5-3. Left fielder John Toppa then singled to bring home Daniello, trimming the Liberty lead to 5-4.
Liberty left fielder Andrew Yayck opened the bottom of the seventh with a triple, but was stranded. Huskies’ reliever Tim Cate got the next two batters to ground to second with the infield drawn in and struck out the final batter of the inning to hold the runner in place.
In the top of the ninth, Duffin hit his third home run of the season over the left-center field wall with one out, tying the contest at 5-5. In the bottom of the inning, the Flames were retired in order, sending the game to extra innings.
UConn loaded the bases with one out in the 11th inning. After designated hitter Tyler Gnesda struck out, Daniello dropped a 1-2 pitch into center field for a single, plating two runs for what proved to be the final score of 7-5.
Huskies reliever Randy Polonia walked Artis to open the bottom of the inning, but then retired the next three Flames to seal the win and earn his second save of the year.
Liberty left-hander Victor Cole falls to 0-1 on the season. The final pitcher of five in the contest for the Flames, he allowed three runs on three hits over three innings of relief. He struck out three and walked two.
UConn reliever Nico Darras moves to 1-0. The fifth of six Huskies to pitch in the contest, Darras pitched two scoreless innings, striking out one.
Liberty collected eight hits, while UConn had 10. The Huskies left 12 men on base, while the Flames left 11.
Liberty and UConn will meet in the final game of their weekend series, tomorrow afternoon at Liberty Baseball Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.