CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Connecticut executed its first step out of the loser’s bracket according to plan Saturday at the Clemson Regional.
The Huskies jumped out to an early 10-run lead and were able to save their top pitchers and avenge an early-season loss in a 13-3 victory over in-state rival Sacred Heart.
Billy Ferriter’s two-out, bases-loaded single triggered a five-run second inning for UConn (42-18-1), which advances to play the Clemson-Coastal Carolina loser on Sunday. Three runs scored on the play thanks to an errant throw to the plate.
His team ahead 10-0, UConn coach Jim Penders elected to pull starter Greg Nappo for possible use later in the tournament. Nappo threw only 36 pitches.
“It was critical for us to get ahead and put up a crooked number,” UConn coach Jim Penders said. “We wanted to get (Nappo) out so he could pitch Monday.”
UConn finished with 18 hits, including four from Ryan Fuller and three each from Mike Nemeth and Ferriter.
UConn hitters didn’t take many strikes from Sacred Heart starter Nick Leiningen, who tried to keep them off-balance with breaking pitches.
“I think we definitely decided to turn it on and go after those pitches,” Nemeth said.
Sacred Heart (34-23) scored three in the fourth inning off Pat Butler (3-1), who followed with three scoreless innings. The Pioneers beat UConn 5-4 in March.
Leiningen (7-4) was knocked out in the third, allowing eight runs.
The Pioneers were outscored 24-4 in their two regional losses.
“We are disappointed we didn’t play a little better,” Sacred Heart coach Nick Giaquinto said.