THE FLATS - Georgia Tech baseball battled back from an early 7-1 deficit before falling to the Connecticut Huskies 9-7 in 10 innings on Sunday afternoon in the final day of the 2018 Atlanta Challenge at Russ Chandler Stadium.
Tech scored seven runs on 11 hits, but surrendered nine runs, five of which were unearned, on four errors and 12 UConn base hits.
The loss drops the Jackets to 1-2 on the season. UConn improves to 2-1 with the win.
At the plate, Joey Bart (3-for-5, HR, 2B, RBI, two runs) and Chase Murray (3-for-5, RBI, run) each had three hits apiece to lead the Jackets, while lead-off hitter Wade Bailey (1-for-5, triple, three RBIs, run) drove in a team-high three RBIs on the day.
For different players in Chris Winkel (3-for-4, 2B, BB, RBI, run), Isaac Feldstein (2-for-5, HR, 2B, RBI, two runs), Christian Fedko (2-for-4, 2B, RBI, two runs) and Conor Moriarty (2-for-4, 2B, run) combined to record nine hits, three RBIs and score seven runs for the Huskies in the win.
The loss went to Tech's Jared Datoc (0-1) who threw a career-high 68 pitches over 3.2 innings of work out of the bullpen. The senior gave up two runs, both unearned, on three hits, a walk and a strikeout.
UConn's P.J. Poulin (1-0) earned the win, as he threw 2.2-scoreless innings, scattering three hits while striking out six Tech batters.
With one swing of the bat, Bart put the Yellow Jackets on the scoreboard first with a solo home run to right center field in the bottom half of the first inning.
However, the 1-0 lead did not last long, as the Huskies put up four runs in the top of the second. After a solo home run and a double to start the inning, GT recorded back-to-back strikeouts and looked to get out of the inning on a high fly ball to shallow left center field. A miscommunication between the two Tech outfielders allowed the ball to drop to the ground and the runner to score from second and give the visitors in gray a 2-1 lead.
The next Huskie hitter then hit the second home run of the inning, a two-run homer to left field to push UConn in front at 4-1 midway through the second frame.
UConn's hot bats carried over into the top of the third, as the Huskies plated three more runs in the inning highlighted by a Fedko RBI single and a Winkel RBI double to push its lead out to six at 7-1.
After Tech stranded a runner in the third and went down in order in the fourth, the bats broke through in the bottom of the fifth, as Oscar Serratos and Murray posted back-to-back one-out singles before Nick Wilhite drew a walk on a 10-pitch at bat to load the bases for the top of the order.
Bailey then hit a sharp line drive down the right field line for a bases-clearing triple to cut the UConn lead to 7-4. Austin Wilhite followed with a ground ball to third to plate Bailey and put the Jackets down two at 7-5 after five complete.
The GT bullpen silenced the UConn bats from the start, as junior Keyton Gibson got Tech out of jam in the third with a 6-4-3 double play and another ground out, before sending the Huskies down in order in the fourth.
Following a clean fifth, in which he pitched around a walk, Gibson handed the ball to sophomore Andy Archer who settled in after a leadoff single to send the Huskies down 1-2-3.
Datoc overcame a fielding error in the seventh and both a throwing error and a base hit in the eighth to keep the Huskies at bay and keep the Jackets within striking distance at 7-5.
The Tech offense answered the challenge in the bottom of the eighth, as Murray hit an RBI single deep in the hole at shortstop with the bases loaded to score one and put the home team down one at 7-6.
That is where the score would stand with both bullpens keeping the other team off the scoreboard until in the top of the 10th inning when UConn used a two-out single, a ground-rule double to left center field and a fielding error up the middle to score what would prove to be the two game-winning runs in the 9-7 extra-inning win.
Both teams left eight runners on base in the contest, while Tech turned two double plays defensively and threw out two would-be base stealers.
The Yellow Jackets will hit the road to take on the Eagles of Georgia Southern on Tuesday night, Feb. 20, at 6 p.m. in Statesboro, Ga.