CLEARWATER, Fla – The Huskies advanced to The American semifinals with a come-from-behind 7-5 victory over Memphis in an elimination contest on Friday.
The Huskies trailed 5-2 heading into the seventh inning but responded with three in the seventh and two more runs in the eighth to advance to the semifinal round for the eighth time in nine seasons.
Chris Winkel had a big day at the plate for the Huskies going 2-3 with a walk. In the seventh inning, Winkel reached on a walk to start the rally for the Huskies. After a walk to Aaron Hill, Keith Krueger looped an RBI single into left field to make it 5-3.
The Tigers went to the bullpen and Hunter Smith uncorked a wild pitch to start his outing. With runners at second and third, John Toppa lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to bring the Huskies within a run.
Anthony Prato stayed hot with his ninth hit of the tournament, a two-out RBI single to knot the game at 5. The UConn freshman has driven in seven runs in three tournament tilts.
The Huskies took the lead for good in the eighth. Isaac Feldstein led off the frame with a single to left and eventually scored on a two-out RBI triple from Chris Winkel. The triple is Winkel’s team-leading fourth of the season.
John Russell earned the victory (3-2), pitching a career-high 3.1 innings, allowing just two hits and struck out five. The UConn closer stranded the bases loaded in the ninth with a fielder’s choice ground out to secure the victory and keep the Huskies championship hopes alive.
Prato, Willy Yahn, Feldstein and Winkel combined for eight of the Huskies nine hits.
Wills Montgomerie made the start for UConn and recorded seven strikeouts in 5.2 innings. With his second strikeout of the game, Montgomerie collected the Huskies 559 strikeout of the season, setting a new program record. The Huskies struck out 558 batters in 63 games last season.
UConn (33-24) forces a rematch with No. 25 Houston Saturday, May 27 at 10 a.m. The Huskies need to beat the Cougars twice to advance to the championship game. Game 2 of the semifinals begins at 4:30 p.m. The games can be viewed on The American Digital Network and listened to on 91.7 FM WHUS/ fm.whus.org.