The scouts were out in droves once again to see Anthony Kay, and once again Kay delivered. Following up his last home performance against Tulane, where he brought a perfect game into the sixth, would be a challenge. He threw 8.1 innings on Friday afternoon, allowing two runs, one earned, on six hits. He added seven strikeouts against two walks.
Houston is the preseason media favorite to win the conference, and won the conference regular season title in 2015 as well. The Cougars are currently ranked No. 30 in the NCBWA poll.
With the win, UConn moves to 17-15 on the season and 3-3 in American Conference play. Zac Susi was the offensive hero for UConn, knocking in all three Husky runs with a 3-4 performance at the plate. Pat Ruotolo came in for the final two outs, and struck out the final two batters for his second save of the season. Kay picked up the win to improve his season record to 4-2.
UConn took a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Willy Yahn reached on a fielder's choice, and after a steal, Zac Susi singled him in for the first run of the game. UConn proceeded to load the bases on a couple of iffy defensive plays by Houston, but Jack Sundberg struck out to end the frame.
Houston came back to tie the game in the top of the fourth. After a lead-off double, Houston loaded the bases with one out and pushed a run through on a sacrifice fly by Jacob Campbell. Houston worked another walk to load the bases again, but Kay struck a batter out to end the threat.
In the top of the fifth, Houston a 2-1 lead. Connor Wong singled with one down and was moved to second on a ground out. The next batter, Joe Davis, singled him in.
UConn came storming back in the bottom of the sixth, scoring two runs to take the lead. Bobby Melley and Willy Yahn reached between a Joe DeRoche-Duffin fly out and Connor Buckley got one of his two hits to load the bases for Zac Susi.
Susi attacked a 1-0 pitch and hit it into the left-center gap. Houston's center fielder had trouble fielding it, and Buckley and Susi were able to move up to second and third with both Melley and Yahn crossing the plate for the lead. John Toppa and Aaron Hill were retired to end the threat.
Anthony Kay came out for the bottom of the sixth, and retired 10 of the last 12 batters he faced. He gave up a single with one out in the ninth inning, and Ruotolo came in to strike out the final two batters and end the game.
UConn plays Houston again Saturday at 1 p.m. at J.O. Christian Field in Storrs.