By Matthew Aveni
The Central Connecticut men’s baseball team was looking to defeat back-to-back Big East opponents to bring a quick start to the beginning of their season. They defeated Villanova by a score of 6-4, however their luck ran out versus the University of Connecticut. The Blue Devils made a late game push to give the Huskies a scare, but the efforts were tarnished with an 8-5 home opening loss.
The loss brings Central to 4-4 overall in the year. It exposed the Blue Devil bullpen, but helped show them the holes in their lineup that need to be addressed before NEC play begins.
“Our bullpen let up some runs tonight; we can’t be giving up three runs in the eighth inning and two more in the ninth,” said CCSU Head Coach Charlie Hickey. “We had Robby Anderson pitch for the second time this year and Todd Savatsky, who is a veteran pitcher on our staff, come in and give up two runs, we just cannot have that. We need to work out the kinks and be ready to play our division and that’s why we play these early non-conference games.”
UCONN came out with a fast start to the game-scoring two runs in the second inning off of Central starter Casey Brown. Brown settled down after the second inning. He threw five innings, only giving up one more run in the fifth.
“Casey threw pretty well today, I would love for him to go deeper in games and hold runners on better, but overall I was pleased with his performance today,” said Hickey.
The Central offense seemed to absent off of UCONN starter, Christian Colletti. He gave up no runs, no hits and no walks in three and one-third innings pitched.
From the fifth inning on it was a battle of the bullpen. Nick Boyd came in for the Blue Devils and threw two scoreless innings retiring all six batters he faced. The UCONN bullpen was shutting the door on the Blue Devils and the chance of a comeback was shrinking by the inning.
In the top of the eighth inning, Hickey brought in Robby Anderson. Anderson gave up three runs in the inning allowing three hits and one walk.
The bats for the Blue Devils finally came to life in the top of the eighth. The Blue Devils responded with a one-out base hit by right fielder Dylan Delacruz. With Delacruz on first, center fielder J.P. Sportman hit a towering homerun over the left field fence. The drama added when the very next batter, Tyler Mcintyre, hit a low line drive homerun over the right field fence to complete back-to-back home runs and cut the lead to 6-3 with only two swings of the bat.
“We really needed those back-to-back homeruns from J.P. and Tyler, but it just wasn’t enough,” explained Hickey. “We need Anthony Turgeon and Josh Ingham to start heating up at the plate and we can beat a team of the caliber of UConn.”
The rally was ended in the eighth when Connecticut entered Jordan Tabakman to shut the door on the Blue Devils. Todd Savatsky was entered in the ninth inning for Central and couldn’t hold UCONN, giving up two last inning runs. Tabakman came back in for the ninth but struggled. With the bases loaded and two outs, Sportman roped a double to left field scoring two runners. With the winning run of Mcintyre up to the plate, Central had UCONN on their toes. Mcintyre pushed the count to 3-2, spoiling pitches foul but Tabakman got Mcintyre swinging to end the game.
The Blue Devils traveled down to High Point for a three game series over St. Patrick’s Day weekend. CCSU lost the first two games, but won the last game to salvage the series and avoid the weekend sweep. Tyler Mcintyre led Central’s offense over the weekend batting 8 of 13 with one homerun, two doubles and four singles. Mcintyre also contributed 6 RBIs and one run scored.
Central will start a four-game home series versus Fairleigh Dickinson on Friday. This four -game series will begin NEC play for the Blue Devils.