SMITHFIELD, R.I. – After a back-and-forth affair through seven, the University of Connecticut, led by a 4-for-6 day from second baseman LJ Mazzilli, had enough, finally shaking off the Bryant University baseball team with five runs in the final two frames for an 11-6 victory that was closer than the score would indicate Tuesday afternoon at the Bryant Baseball Complex.
Mazzilli would plate three on the day and score twice himself while falling just a triple shy of the cycle, hammering a pair of doubles in the winning effort. The Bulldogs (20-19) were led by multi-RBI days from Connor Carignan (Norwich, Conn.) and Jordan English (Windsor Locks, Conn.), who combined for five RBI despite registering just a hit apiece.
With the score tied at 6-6 heading into the top of the eighth, Mazzilli erased a big Bryant double play, taking a two-run shot off senior lefty Mark Andrews (Hillsborough, N.J.) to straightaway centerfield and giving the Huskies (28-12-1) an 8-6 edge. A George Springer double to right center plated another run before Andrews would get out of the jam, but the damage was done. UConn plated three more in the top of the final frame, but they were scores the visitors would need as pitchers Dan Feehan and Kevin Vance would keep Bryant off the board for the 11-6 final.
But it was the Bulldogs who started out on top, taking a 2-0 lead off English's first homer of the season, a left field bomb that also plated Adam Claire (Litchfield, Conn.) after a leadoff single in the bottom half of the second inning.
Mazzilli doubled to the base of the centerfield wall and advanced 90 feet from home on a wild pitch to open the fourth for the Huskies, and the sophomore would cross the plate a batter later on an error by Bryant shortstop David Soltis (Plainville, Conn.), cutting the home side's lead in half before starter Craig Schlitter (Guilford, Conn.) left a pair of Huskies stranded in scoring position to get out of the inning.
But in the top of the fifth, Tim Martin took a first-pitch offering out of the park straight down the rightfield line to knot the score at 2-2, and Rhode Island-product Tom Verdi would land on third two batters later courtesy of a double and a sac bunt. Mazzilli would record his third RBI on the day to follow, sending yet another double to the centerfield fence to clear the bases and take UConn's first lead of the afternoon, 3-2.
With two out and Clair on third in the bottom of the sixth, Colin Shepard (Boxford, Mass.) hit an infield single that scored the tying run. Tim Norton (Barnstable, Mass.) would follow up with a single of his own, setting the Bulldogs up to take back the lead, 5-3, on a base-clearing triple to right centerfield from Carignan.
The seventh saw UConn match the Bulldogs' sixth-frame scoring effort, recording a trio of runs on back-to-back singles into center and another Bryant error, as the visitors went up, 6-5. The Bulldogs would get the score back in the end of the inning off an English sacrifice fly with the bases loaded, but it would be the last time a Bryant player would touch home as the Huskies continued to score over the final frames for the 11-6 victory.
UConn recorded 15 hits on the day while the Black and Gold put 12 on the board. There were five errors between the squads, two from the hosts. Feehan got the win for the Huskies with two innings in relief, allowing just one run off two hits while facing eight batters. Andrews took the loss and moved to 4-3 on the season, giving up five runs and eight hits in 1.2 innings of work.
Schlitter had a strong outing from the starting nod, pitching 5.1 innings and allowing just four hits with three runs and a trio of walks. He had two of the four strikeouts made by the Bryant staff.
The Bulldogs return to the diamond Wednesday afternoon when they take on intrastate rival Brown in a 3:30 p.m. matchup in Providence, R.I.