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UConn Baseball Rallies to Top Central Florida, 4-3

The Huskies battled their way to a win in the weekend series opener with UCF.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Anthony Kay and Joe DeRoche-Duffin highlighted a hard-fought come-from-behind win Friday afternoon against the UCF Knights. Kay's eight innings of work and DeRoche-Duffin's late inning "Duff Smash" helped the Huskies earn their 27th win of the 2016 season. UConn moves to 27-22 (9-9 AAC) on the year, while UCF falls to 25-26 (8-11 AAC).

Things were not looking good early on for the Huskies. UCF's Sam Tolleson and Eli Putnam were able to get to Kay, hitting back to back home runs in the bottom of the second inning. UConn was held hitless for the first five innings of play as the Knights maintained a 2-0 advantage heading into the bottom of the sixth.

Jack Sundberg provided a spark for the Husky offense, leading off the home half of the sixth by belting a triple to the gap in left. Willy Yahn was able to bring him in with an RBI groundout to cut the Knight lead to 2-1. But UCF pushed its lead back to two in the top of the seventh after scoring on a Bobby Melley error.

Three consecutive singles during the following frame from Daniello, Toppa, and Susi set the stage for Tyler Gnesda. The designated hitter notched a bloop single to left to score Daniello from third to cut the lead back to one.

UConn bounced back in grand fashion in the eighth inning following a 1-2-3 inning from Anthony Kay. With a man on second and two outs, Joe DeRoche-Duffin blasted a mammoth two-run shot that cleared the centerfield wall and gave UConn a 4-3 lead heading into the final inning of play. The home run was Duff's 15th on the year.

The one-run lead was all Pat Ruotolo needed as the Husky closer was able to finish off the final frame and earn the save as Connecticut went on to win by a score of 4-3. The save was the sixth on the year for Ruotolo.

Anthony Kay continued to showcase his ability to pitch late into games. UConn's ace was able to settle in despite letting up two home runs in the second, going 8.0 innings strong and letting up three runs on seven UCF hits on his way to earning his sixth win of the 2016 campaign (6-2). His six strikeouts bring his career total to 242. He trails former UConn great Ed Baird (243) for second on the all-time UConn strikeouts list.

Next up for the Huskies is game two of the three-game series against the Knights. First pitch is slated for 1 pm at J.O. Christian Field in Storrs as the Huskies look to stay hot.