It was a very happy 22nd birthday for UConn senior Joe DeRoche-Duffin Wednesday afternoon in Worcester, Mass. The slugger launched two home runs to power the Huskies past the Holy Cross Crusaders, 5-1. DeRoche-Duffin now has 10 homers on the season, which puts him at a tie for the American Athletic Conference lead.
Redshirt freshman Jack Riley got the start for the Huskies. The southpaw delievered 4.1 innings of work, allowing just one earned run on 5 hits with 4 strikeouts. The bullpen pitchers shined following Riley's departure as they combined for the final 4.2 innings while only allowing two baserunners on.
Connecticut got on the board in a hurry as DeRoche-Duffin sent a two-out blast over the left field fence to give UConn an early 2-0 advantage in the top half of the first inning. Holy Cross was able to answer in the home half of the first as Cam O'Neill hit a solo shot off of Riley to make it a 2-1 ballgame.
The Crusaders threatened the UConn lead in the fifth inning, getting runners at the corners with just one out. Joe Rivera was able to come in from the bullpen and get the Huskies out of the jam with a little help from centerfielder Jack Sundberg, who threw out the game-tying run at the plate to end the frame.
The score would remain 2-1 until the top of the sixth when DeRoche-Duffin blasted his second home run of the game, a solo shot to extend the Husky lead to 3-1. Fellow senior Jack Sundberg would follow suit just one inning later, crushing a two-run shot to make it 5-1 in favor of UConn. The home run was the third on the 2016 season for the Husky captain, who continues to produce at the plate for the Huskies.
The 5-1 score would hold up to the finish as UConn earned its 22nd win of the season. Joe Rivera was credited with the win for his work in the fifth inning jam, moving to 2-0 on the campaign. The non-conference victory moves the Huskies to 22-18 on the year and drops Holy Cross to 22-23.
Next up for Jim Penders' squad is a tough conference series this upcoming weekend as the Huskies travel to Tennessee to face the Memphis Tigers. The first game of the series is scheduled for Friday and first pitch is set for 7:30 p.m.