After an impressive offensive display over the weekend against Hofstra, William and Mary’s bats remained silent for most of Wednesday night as they fell to first-time opponents Connecticut 12-1 at Plumeri Park.
After an uneventful first inning, the Huskies (11-7, 0-0 AAC) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second. The Tribe’s (10-6, 2-1 CAA) starting pitcher, junior right-hander Aaron Fernandez, began the inning by walking UConn’s Max McDowell, who moved to third on a single by teammate Bryan Daniello. Connecticut’s Joe Deroche-Duffin then hit into a fielder’s choice, scoring McDowell while Daniello was forced out at second base.
Following a perfect third inning, Fernandez got himself into trouble again with two outs in the fourth. He walked Daniello, hit Deroche-Duffin, and then with his very next pitch plunked Connecticut’s Jon Testani, loading the bases. Sophomore shortstop Tim Hoehn prevented the deficit from growing, however, making a slick diving stop on a groundball by UConn’s Willy Yahn, throwing him out to end the frame.
The College’s defense came to Fernandez’s rescue again in the fifth. After a two-out single by the Huskies’ Bobby Melley, teammate Blake Davey roped a double to right field the next at-bat. Freshman right fielder Zach Newell retrieved the ball and fired it to freshman second baseman Cullen Large, who threw a bullet home to junior catcher Ryan Hissey, tagging out Melley as he tried to score, ending the Huskies’ chances for the inning.
The Tribe offense scored a combined 32 runs over their past two games but failed to muster a legitimate offensive effort until the fifth inning. Freshman left fielder Ryan Hall led off with a walk, advancing to second on Hoehn’s sacrifice bunt. Following a groundout, senior Devin White drew a walk pinch hitting for Newell after a balk by Connecticut’s William Montgomerie pushed Hall to third. UConn exchanged pitchers, replacing Montgomerie with Nico Darras. Large drew a walk from Darras, loading the bases for junior center fielder Josh Smith. The Tribe remained scoreless as Smith struck out to end the inning.
UConn came to life in the top of the sixth, scoring seven runs off of three different Tribe pitchers. The College had a chance to limit the damage when Testani hit a ground ball to Hoehn with no outs and the bases loaded. However, the ball bounced off of Hoehn’s glove and into center field, scoring two runs and tipping the momentum to the Huskies. When the dust finally settled, Connecticut held a commanding 8-0 lead.
The College managed to push across a run in the bottom of the seventh. With two outs and a runner on first, sophomore right fielder Porter Reinhardt hit an infield single and advanced to second on a throwing error. Large walked, setting up Smith again with two outs and the bases loaded. Smith was hit by a pitch, bringing home the Tribe’s first and only run of the night.
Connecticut scored two runs in each of the last two innings, including a long two-run home run deep to left field off the bat of Yahn in the ninth, extending the Huskies’ lead to 12-1. Despite loading the bases again in the bottom of the ninth, the Tribe failed to score, as Hissey struck out to end the game.
Fernandez took his first loss of the season, pitching five innings and allowing six hits, three runs and two walks. Darras earned his first win of the season for the Connecticut, pitching two innings in relief and striking out four while giving up one run on one hit.
The College travels to Kennesaw, Ga. this weekend to take on Kennesaw State in a three-game series. The games are scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.