May 31, 2013
Huskies Single Out Hokies
By Zach Mariner
Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com
BLACKSBURG, Va. -
Big East tournament champion Connecticut had 16 hits – all
singles – in a 5-2 upset of Regional host Virginia Tech Friday
“I just thought our guys had more fun tonight,”
said Jim Penders, UConn head coach. “We’ve been in that position
where we’ve hosted a Regional on the first night and it’s tough.
I remember when we were at Norwich in 2010 and it’s almost like
there’s more pressure on the home team in the first game.
“That’s not to say that’ll last, but I thought
our guys just had a little more fun tonight…we played loose, we
played together and we swung the bats just as well as we did on
Sunday [in the Big East championship game].”
The Huskies (35-26) racked up 10 hits off Tech
starter Joe Mantiply, who only got through 4.2 innings and gave
up four runs — although three were unearned. It was Mantiply’s
first loss since May 18, 2012.
“My arm felt good going into the game,” he said.
“I really think that a couple bad breaks and I really got caught
up and let my emotions get the best of me and kind of lost my
composure a little bit there.”
The Hokies, picked by many to win the Regional,
will now have to win four straight to advance to a Super
“Obviously we just made our life a little more
difficult in this tournament,” Hokies coach Pete Hughes said.
“None of us sitting up here are happy with the way we played.
“We had a great crowd out there tonight and
didn’t take advantage of that. Give credit to Connecticut, I
thought they hit every mistake we threw up there.”
UConn starter David Cross had an impressive
outing, throwing 6.1 innings and allowing one run on six hits,
walking three and striking out three.
“Carson was behind a lot tonight, but he bent and
didn’t break,” Penders said. “And when there was two outs and
runners on, he was special. That’s the sign of an ace, that’s
why he is our ace.”
The Huskies struck first in the second inning
when Eric Yavarone singled to left to score Bobby Melley.
But UConn really broke things open in the fifth,
thanks to a pair of Tech errors. With one out and the bases
empty, leadoff hitter Tom Verdi reached on a miscue from third
baseman Andrew Rash. Three out of the next four batters singled
for the Huskies, making it 3-0. Then the unthinkable happened
for Tech, when catcher Chad Morgan made an errant throw back to
Mantiply after a pitch to Max McDowell that allowed Vinny Siena
to score from third for a 4-0 lead.
Although the error was charged to Morgan,
Mantiply took responsibility.
“I threw a ball, took my glove off for a second
and then Chad saw me trying to get my glove back on and just
short-hopped the throw and it got away from me to my right,” he
said. “It was completely my fault.”
The Hokies (38-21) had a chance to build a
comeback in the fifth after an Alex Perez single put runners on
the corners with one out.
Sean Keselica then hit a long fly ball to the
warning track in right field that was tracked down by Jon
Testani. Both runners advanced, but that would be all Tech could
Tech had a chance again in the seventh, when it
loaded the bases with two outs for cleanup hitter — and
second-team All-American — Tyler Horan, who hit a lazy fly ball
to right field that ended the threat.
“I didn’t want to try and do too much, I didn’t
want to get out of my comfort zone,” Horan said of the at-bat.
“I knew going into it that they hadn’t been throwing me many
strikes, so I was going to have to find a pitch that I could
“I fouled off a couple pitches that normally I’d
put the barrel on into the gap or something — but I ended up
just missing that pitch.”
Tech rallied again in the ninth when Kyle
Wernicki led off the inning with an infield single. Perez walked
and Keselica drove a single through the left side. Wernicki
scored on the play after left fielder Yavarone misplayed the
ball, but Perez was thrown out at third trying to advance.
The absence of clutch hitting plagued the Hokies.
“We hit three balls hard to right field that
didn’t get down or get out of here, or whatever you want to call
it,” Rash said. “We didn’t capitalize on a couple other
opportunities. We’ve just got to battle, come out tomorrow and
be ready to play.”
Connecticut advances to play Oklahoma Saturday
night at 5:30 p.m. Tech will play Coastal Carolina in an
elimination game Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.