The Husky bats came out in force in game one. Highlighted by a seven run 6th inning, the lineup continued their positive trend from the end of the FAU series and pounded out a season-high 16 hits. There were noteworthy performances up and down the lineup, starting at the top with Jack Sundberg who went 2-5 with an RBI and a run scored. Vinny Siena kept the production going in the two hole with a 3-4 day including a double, an RBI, a stolen base, and two runs scored. Bryan Daniello joined the multi-hit parade going 2-4 with a double.
Despite the multi-hit performances, the Husky who got the biggest praise from head coach Jim Penders was Joe Deroche-Duffin who went 1-2 with a double, three RBI, three walks, and a run scored.
"Joe Duffin was outstanding," Penders said. "His first two at bats he saw a ton of pitches and it was the third at bat where he doubled in the left-center field gap. He's really trusting his hands."
The offense was backed by a typical solid pitching performance from ace of the staff Carson Cross pitched seven innings, striking out six while allowing two runs on five hits and a walk.
Asked after the game why Penders made the decision to bring Cross back out with an eight run lead after a inning for the Husky offense that lasted over 40 minutes, Penders said that it was a matter of stretching out the right-hander after sitting out all of last season due to injury.
"We gotta push Carson a little bit," Penders said. He did a good job. He was hitting 89-90 MPH in the last inning."
The middle game of the series was a letdown for UConn and saw the offense struggle in a 3-1 loss, wasting a phenomenal outing from sophomore Anthony Kay (0-1) who got the tough luck loss. The left-hander went eight innings while striking out a career high 10 batters and giving up just one earned run on three hits and a walk.
Only run for the Huskies came on a Jon Testani home run to left field. The senior accounted for two of the teams five hits in an otherwise forgettable game.
Outside of the individual performances from Kay and Testani, the best part about game two of the series was that it seemed that the UConn bats came out angry in game three. The Huskies took the rubber game of the series 14-1 behind 15 hits from the offense, and solid pitching.
Deroche-Duffin led the way going 3-4 with a double and five RBI as the designated hitter. It has gotten to the point where the coaches can't afford to take his bat out of the lineup. For the second year in a row, a transfer from Cypress College is paying huge dividends in Storrs.
Vinny Siena had a five RBI game as well, going 2-6 with two triples. His two triple game was the first time it has happened for a Husky since Billy Ferriter had two against Clemson in the 2011 NCAA Regionals.
Joining Deroche-Duffin and Siena with multiple hit games was Sundberg (2-3, 3 RBI), McDowell (2-4), Daniello (2-3, 3 runs), and Hill (2-3, 3 runs).
Penders was impressed with the UConn offense.
"Everybody up and down the lineup had good at bats, it was good to see," Penders said. "We stole some bases, played like aggressors and really dictated the pace of the game. It's a game that we can build on and improve from."
On the hill, Jordan Tabakman locked in after allowing one in the first, pitch six strong innings, striking out three while giving up the lone run on five hits and a walk. Max Slade, Devin Over, and Nico Darras all pitched scoreless innings in relief.
Here is Sundberg and Hill talking about their individual games, and what it means to the team going forward.
The Huskies have a tough task as they travel to No. 24 Kennesaw State to take on the 5-2 Owls. Penders said that he's looking forward to seeing how the team will respond.
"We know we’re gonna be up against a really good super regional team on their home field," said Penders. "We’re gonna have our hands full, and I'm looking forward to how our team is going to compete after this weekend."
Game one: Friday at 4:00 pm
Game two: Saturday at 2:00 pm
Game three: Sunday at 12:00 pm
Chris Jones and Jeff Lemmon will broadcast the games on 91.7 WHUS and you can also listen at WHUS.org.