In what was its second pitcher’s duel in two days, Seton Hall defeated UConn by a final score of 3-2 Saturday. Pirate starter Cullen Dana dominated, allowing just one run in 7 2/3 innings pitched. UConn starter Wills Montgomerie was not far behind, giving up two runs over six innings.
Dana, a sophomore, was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American last season but has struggled to recapture that dominating form early on this season. Through five starts, the lefty had an uncharacteristically high ERA of 4.05. However, Dana wounded into form in due time.
In what was his best outing of the young season, Dana worked through the UConn lineup, giving up just one run and lowering his ERA to 3.41. UConn’s run came from a second-inning home run off the bat of first baseman Tyler Gnesda. The homer proved to be Dana’s sole mistake, as it was Connecticut’s only extra-base hit of the day. After giving up a single to lead off the third inning, Dana moved through the UConn lineup, retiring 14 of his next 16 batters. The southpaw finished his brilliant outing with seven strikeouts and just four hits given up.
Pirate coach Rob Sheppard was happy with his pitcher’s performance. “He was in the zone and throwing strikes. That’s when he is at his best – when he’s throwing strikes and being efficient with his pitch count.”
“He was in the zone and throwing strikes,” Sheppard said. “That’s when he is at his best – when he’s throwing strikes and being efficient with his pitch count.”
The Pirates offense was led by freshman designated hitter Matt Toke and senior first basemen Mikael-Ali Mogues. Toke went 2-4 and led the offense with two crucial RBI singles. While Mogues did not score or produce a run, he finished the day 3-4 with a double.
While the Pirates offense did enough to secure the win, it missed opportunities to pad its lead and give Dana insurance runs. In total, the Pirates left four runners in scoring position. The biggest missed opportunity came in the sixth inning when the Pirates loaded the bases with one out but failed to bring in a runner. Sheppard knows his team must capitalize at the plate more if they want to win. “We need to more productive with our
“We need to more productive with our at-bats,” Sheppard said. “Whether it’s a sac fly, it’s still a productive out even if it isn’t a base hit. We just have to do a better job of being productive with runners in scoring position.”
The missed opportunities almost cost the Pirates the game. With four outs to go, Sheppard turned to his bullpen to seal the win. After Anthony Pacillo led the Pirates out of the eighth inning, Sheppard brought in his closer, Ryan Testani. Although he had been lights out so far this season, Testani allowed UConn back into the game by giving up three hits and a run. Sheppard then turned to Matt Leon for the final out. After an error and walk left the bases loaded, Leon got the UConn batter to pop up for the final out.
The win brought the Pirates to 11-9. They will face UConn again tomorrow in what is the third and final game of the series. The Pirates will give their ace Shane McCarthy the start, hoping to ride their pitching to another win.
Andrew Lombardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AnLombardo8.