On Friday night we may have seen the best pitching performance from a UConn Husky. After allowing a lead-off double, Carson Cross retired 27 of the next 29 Panthers hitters, including a stretch of 18 in a row, to lead the way for UConn in a 4-1 win.
Cross (3-1) went the distance giving up the lone run in the first, just two hits. He walked no one, and struck out a career-high 15 hitters.
In typical Cross fashion, the co-captain was quick to give credit to the team.
"I had fun throwing with those guys behind me," Cross said, "They were giving me motivation to keep going after it and I wanted to set the tone with the first game on Friday and we did it tonight."
Pacing the way for the Husky offense was spark-plug lead-off man Jack Sundberg, who went 3-4 with a walk, a run, and an RBI triple.
UConn also continued it's recent power surge, this time courtesy of Vinny Siena, who went 2-4 with a two-run homer, and Max McDowell who hit a solo shot that marked his second of the year.
It was more than enough for Cross, who was honored Monday as both AAC pitcher of the week, and Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball Player of the Week.
After sitting through a lengthy rain delay, the Huskies were able to rack up their third consecutive series win by beating FIU 5-3.
Starting pitcher Anthony Kay has been very solid and this was no exception, giving the Huskies another quality start. He went six innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on six hits, no walks, and striking out seven. Kay improved to 2-1 on the year.
For the offense, it was once again Sundberg and McDowell that led the way. Sundberg set the table by going 1-3 with an RBI triple, two runs, and a career-high three stolen bases.
McDowell had another productive day at the plate with two hits and two RBI, and is now fourth on the team with 7 RBI.
Once Kay departed, we saw what looks to be the main Husky bullpen going forward.
First, Devin Over went 1-2-3 in the seventh to lower his ERA to 3.86.
Then, after Nico Darras went two thirds of an inning in the 8th and hit two batters, sophomore Pat Ruotolo came on to make his first appearance of the season. He missed the first three weeks of the season due to a violation of team rules.
Ruotolo came in and did exactly what is expected of him, striking out the first batter he faced on three pitches to get the Huskies out of the jam.
In the 9th, Ruotolo ran into some trouble, but pitched out of a jam to lock the door. It is incredibly beneficial for the Huskies to have him back. He has a hard fastball, and impressive secondary pitches that gets a lot of misses and makes him the top closing option for head coach Jim Penders.
The Huskies couldn't close out the sweep in game three, losing 7-4 to the Panthers despite a ferocious comeback that saw them score four runs in the last two innings and end the game with the tying run on deck.
Aaron Hill hit his first home run in a Husky uniform, and Siena had a two run double during UConn's rally. Bobby Melley came to the plate representing the tying run before he was robbed, lining out to the center fielder who laid out to make the catch to end the game.
Jordan Tabakman (1-2) started for the Huskies, and went five innings giving up four runs (three earned) on six hits and three walks while striking out four. The Panthers scored in the bottom of the third on a throwing error by Tabakman on a sacrifice bunt that plated two.
Ryan Radue pitched a scoreless inning in relief and has not allowed a run in four innings this season.
On Tuesday UConn travels to lovely Bridgeport to take on athletic director Bobby Valentine's Sacred Heart Pioneers in the Huskies first midweek game of the year. First pitch is at 3:00 p.m.