Rams Use Pair of Eighth-Inning Homers to Take Down #23 UConn 4-3

Photo Credit: Mike Scott
Photo Credit: Mike Scott

Rhode Island Lineup
Powell (CF), Heiss (SS), Coutts (DH), Ulliana (C), Vargas (1B), Foley (LF), Ilario (RF), Daller (3B), Brodeur (2B), Walker (P)

Connecticut Lineup
Toppa (LF), Prato (SS), Susi (C), Feldstein (RF), Stefani (CF), Woolworth (2B), Winkel (1B), Fedko (DH), Moriarty (3B), Dunlop (P)

How it Happened
For the third game in a row, Rhode Island (22-26) used a late comeback to pick up the win. Trailing No. 23 Connecticut (30-17-1) 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth, the Rams got a pair of solo home runs - by Xavier Vargas and Sam Ilario - to pull ahead 4-3. Nick Johnson then fired a 1-2-3 ninth to seal the victory and pick up his eighth save of the season.

Rhody had taken a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning when a single by Sonny Ulliana plated both Kevin Heiss and Jackson Coutts. With two away, Heiss drew a four-pitch walk before advancing to third on a double to left center by Coutts. Ulliana then shot the first pitch he saw back up the middle, easily scoring Heiss, as well as Coutts, who snuck under the tag at the plate.

All of the Huskies' offense came in the top of the seventh, where they scored three runs on five hits.

Inside the Box Score

  • As a team, Rhody outhit the No. 23 Huskies 11-8.
  • The win is URI's second over a nationally-ranked team this season as the Rams also defeated No. 28 Stetson (6-5) on March 17.
  • In four seasons as head coach of the Rams, Raphael Cerrato has now recorded six wins over nationally-ranked opponents.
  • Redshirt junior Sam Ilario and freshman Xavier Vargas both homered in the eighth inning to secure the win. Vargas' homer was the first of his career while Ilario's was his second in Rhody's last two games. He now leads the team with three on the season.
  • Sophomore Sonny Ulliana drove in two runs on a 2-for-4 day at the plate. Over URI's last three games, he is 6-for-13 with six RBI.
  • Seniors Jordan Powell and Mike Foley both singled twice in the win.
  • Freshman Josh Brodeur also had a pair of hits for the Rams, making his first start since April 18.
  • Junior Kevin Heiss scored the first run of the game, after drawing a two-out walk in the bottom of the third.
  • Freshman Jackson Coutts used a third-inning double to extend his reached-base streak to 33 consecutive games.
  • Sophomores Jake Walker, Vitaly Jangols and Nick Robinson each tossed two scoreless innings, combining to allow just three hits through the first six frames.
  • Junior Mark Silvestri faced the minimum in the eighth inning to improve to 3-1 on the season.
  • Senior Nick Johnson recorded a 1-2-3 ninth, securing the win as well as his eighth save of the year. He has now pitched 20.0 consecutive scoreless innings, tying him with Zach Zuercher (2005) for the fifth-longest such streak in program history. During that stretch, he has recorded 32 strikeouts while allowing just 11 hits and nine walks.

Up Next
The Rams return to The Beck for their final Atlantic 10 series of the season. Rhody and St. Bonaventure will play at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 1 p.m. on Friday and Noon on Saturday.