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Two big UConn innings knock off UMass Lowell 14-7

Midweek games are always an adventure and you never quite know what to expect. On Wednesday afternoon, the UConn Huskies traveled to Lowell to take on the River Hawks who had won five in a row coming into this game. The Huskies are on a bit of a roll themselves, having beaten two top 25 programs the last two weekends in conference play.

Those two series wins have vaulted UConn into the top 25 in the Division one poll that came out earlier this week. The River Hawks, though not a top 25 team, nevertheless are moving up in the America East standings thanks to their recent good play.

A mid-afternoon game at LeLacheur Park saw the baseball flying everywhere.  It totaled four home runs, one by UConn and three for UMass Lowell, and a total of twenty-four hits in the game. It would be the Huskies that would get the better of it thanks to a seven-run fifth inning in which they would bat around. They followed that up with a four-run seventh. It all added up to a 14-7 win for the Huskies who notched win number twenty on the season.

John Polichetti got the start for the River Hawks. Before this outing, he had only pitched four and one-third innings. Head Coach Ken Harring was hoping to use this start to stretch Polichetti out for future use down the road.

His start got off to a rocky beginning as he would pluck the first two hitters he faced in the first inning. They both would score on a two-run single to right field off the bat of the number three hitter Zac Susi. It was 2-0 UConn.

The River Hawks tied the game in the bottom of the first, against the Huskies starting pitcher Jeff Kersten.  After a walk to leadoff hitter Colby Maiola, Russ Olive stepped up to the plate. With a runner on and one out, Olive tied the game at two apiece with one swing of the bat. The blast to right field was his ninth of the year as he continues to swing a very hot bat.

UMass Lowell took the lead in the fourth against the Connecticut bullpen. Colby Dunlop came on to start the inning and the first hitter he faced was Steve Passatempo. The River Hawks first baseman took a Dunlop pitch and hooked it around the right field foul pole for a HR.  The homer was his sixth of the season and gave the River Hawks a 3-2 lead after four.

In the fifth, Polichetti began to tire and the Huskies took full advantage. A seven-run inning on seven hits included a home run by first baseman Chris Winkle, his third of the year. All the runs were charged to Polichetti. Afterward, his coach said they swung the bats well and dumped a few balls in as well. When the dust settled, the Huskies had batted around and owned a 9-3 lead.

In their half of the fifth the River Hawks, scored four times themselves.  Maiola got things started by going deep to right field. The home run was hit off of Trevor Holmes and it was his fifth of the year. They would add two more runs on a single to center field from Cam Climo that cut the lead to 9-7 Connecticut.

The Huskies would strike again against the River Hawk bullpen scoring four more times in the seventh, and there final run in the eighth to make the final score 14-7 UConn.

Although Coach Harring was not happy with the outcome, he has the bigger picture in mind, conference play. For UMass Lowell, that means a weekend home date with the Maine Black Bears. A team that Harring said after the game has had our number in recent times.

His pitching rotation for the series is set and ready to go. In Saturday’s doubleheader, it will be Henry Funaro and Andrew Ryan. Then on Sunday, it will be Jack Reilly toeing the rubber for the River Hawks.

They enter this big series at 15-18 overall, and 6-6 in America East.

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