Connecticut holds off Bryant rally as Bulldogs fall, 6-4
SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Down four runs in the bottom of the fourth, the Bryant University softball team rallied with a three-run inning to cut the deficit to one, but the University of Connecticut tacked on two late runs to prevail by a 6-4 margin over the Bulldogs in Tuesday afternoon's home opener at the Bryant Softball Complex.
With two runners on base in the home half of the fourth frame, freshman Madeline Velasquez (Los Angeles, Calif.) nearly put the Bulldogs (4-12) ahead after launching an 0-1 pitch to deep right center, but the ball stayed in the yard for an RBI double to cut the Huskies' (7-10) lead to to three runs.
After an error pushed across another Bryant run, freshman Karli Theleman (Lisle, N.Y.) singled to right center to bring in Velasquez, making it a 4-3 ballgame with a runner on first and one out. A double play popup and throwout would end the threat before any further damage could be done, but the Bulldogs had set the stage for a late comeback attempt against a Connecticut squad that they had not beaten since the 2009 season.
But despite getting runners on base in the fifth and sixth innings, the Bulldogs could not manage to draw even against the Huskies, as Axli Adelman entered the game in the fourth inning and led the visitors the rest of the way with a three-strikeout performance in 3.2 innings of work. The senior hurler's efforts preserved the win for starting pitcher Kiki Saveriano, who struck out three and walked three while allowing two hits and two earned in runs 3.1 innings.
UConn tacked on a pair of key insurance runs in the top of the seventh on three hits, including an RBI double by right fielder Marissa Guches and a two-out, RBI single from Brittany Duclos to push the Huskies up by a 6-3 margin.
Down by three, Bryant pushed one run across in the bottom of the seventh after senior Lindsay Martin (Methuen, Mass.) came in to score on a fielder's choice, but that was the closest that the Bulldogs would come before the final out was recorded.
The Huskies used a pair of two-run innings early in the game to take a commanding 4-0 lead that proved to be the difference in the game. In the top of the first, Andrea Huelsenbeck drove in a run on a single up the middle after a previous run had scored on a sacrifice to give the visitors an early 2-0 edge. Then in the second, leadoff hitter Jen Ward smacked a two-run homer down the left field line to account for UConn's early offensive prowess.
After that, Bryant starter Jennifer Jacob (Deer Park, N.Y.) settled in through nearly the remainder of the game. The junior tossed 6.2 innings while yielding six runs on 11 hits and totaling one strikeout and two walks. Classmate Brittany Hart (North Andover, Mass.) entered in the top of the seventh looking for the final out of the inning and needed just two pitches to do so before inducing a popup to second to get out of the jam.
Bryant continues its homestand tomorrow with a regional matchup against Boston University. First pitch against the Terriers is slated for 4 p.m. at the Bryant Softball Complex.